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Document release could shape New Jersey bridge scandal case

April 15, 2016

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The expected release of thousands of pages of documents by the law firm representing Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s office could shape the criminal case against his two former allies who are charged in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.

Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher has until April 28 to comply with a subpoena filed by Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni that seeks documents including communications between Christie’s office and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge.

Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Baroni, a former Port Authority executive, face trial in September. They’re accused of closing the lanes to create traffic jams to punish a local Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie.

They were charged last year with wire fraud, deprivation of civil rights and misapplying property of an organization — the Port Authority — that receives federal funds. Both have pleaded not guilty. Former Port Authority official David Wildstein pleaded guilty last year and is expected to testify against them.

Christie was not charged and has denied knowledge of the scheme. Gibson Dunn, which has billed the state more than $10 million for legal services related to the scandal, issued a report in 2014 absolving him of wrongdoing.

Baroni and Kelly have sought thousands of pages of documents that they say the governor’s office has claimed are privileged and off-limits but that could potentially be exculpatory — or, at least, provide a deeper understanding of who else knew what, and when.

In a letter to the judge this week, Gibson Dunn argued that Baroni and Kelly initially sought the same documents the firm provided to the government as part of a 2014 grand jury subpoena, then expanded that request in March to include “numerous additional demands far exceeding the scope of the Government’s grand jury subpoenas.”

The letter indicated Gibson Dunn likely will petition the court for “appropriate relief” regarding those demands.

Baroni’s attorney declined to comment on the subpoena Friday. Kelly’s attorney and the Gibson Dunn attorney handling the case didn’t return emails seeking comment.

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