Bill Barnoni, 47, a former NJ State Senator and the former Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY/NJ was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison today for his role in the September, 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closure known as Bridgegate, Assistant US Attorney Attorney for the United States Mark Coyne announced.
U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton imposed the sentence in Newark federal court.
According to a report on NorthJersey.com, before he sentencing Baroni contritely said he lost his moral compass when he went to work in the “cult and culture” surrounding former Govenor Chris Christie:
“I always thought I had a clear sense of right and wrong,” he said, a copy of his prepared remarks shaking in his hand as he spoke. “When I went to work for the Port Authority and for Gov. Christie, that line disappeared.”
Baroni said he was “sucked into this cult and culture” that surrounded Christie. Trying to stifle tears, his voice cracking, he added: “I always tried to help people. Here I hurt people.”
Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, 46 — formerly deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs in then-Gov. Chris Christie’s office — were each convicted on Nov. 4, 2016, of conspiring to misuse, and actually misusing, property of an organization receiving federal benefits; conspiring to commit, and actually committing, wire fraud; conspiring to injure and oppress certain individuals’ civil rights, and acting under color of law to deprive certain individuals of their civil rights. Baroni was originally sentenced to 24 months in prison and Kelly was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton sentenced Baroni to one year of supervised release, 500 hours of community service, fined him $7,500 and ordered him to pay restitution of $14,314.
The defendants both appealed their convictions. In a unanimous, precedential opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Nov. 27, 2018, affirmed five of seven convictions for each defendant, upholding all but the civil rights counts of conviction and remanding the case to Judge Wigenton for resentencing. Kelly is currently appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.