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Society

Flap Over G.W. Bridge Scandal Co-Conspirator List

NEWARK, N.J. — A judge has asked media companies seeking a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the 2013 lane closures of the George Washington Bridge to respond to a motion by someone on it who wants to block its release.

U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton had ordered the government to release the list by noon May 13 in response to a motion filed by The Associated Press and other media organizations.

She instead requested written arguments by that same time responding to a motion filed late May 12 by a person identified as John Doe, according to Bruce Rosen, a lawyer for the media organizations.

Rosen said they will oppose the motion. He said the person is looking to deal with the same issues already dismissed by Wigenton. It wasn’t immediately clear when she would rule.

The motion said the man will be “publicly branded a felon without due process of law, causing him immediate and irreparable reputational harm.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office, which brought the indictment against two former aides to Republican Gov. Chris Christie, had  opposed the release of the names over individual privacy concerns.

But Wigenton said it was in the public’s interest to release the list limited to those “whom the Government has sufficient evidence to designate as having joined the conspiracy.”

Bridget Kelly, Christie’s then-Deputy Chief of Staff, and Bill Baroni, a top Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that operates the bridge, face Federal wire fraud and civil rights charges and are scheduled for trial this fall.

They are alleged to have engineered the lane closures to create traffic jams in nearby Fort Lee, whose Democratic mayor had declined to endorse Christie for re-election. Both have pleaded not guilty and have sought to have the charges dismissed.

Christie has not been charged and has denied knowledge of the closures. This week he said it was “highly doubtful” he was on the list.

The motion came on the same day the organizations asked Federal prosecutors to release a separate list which reportedly shows the names of people who may have known about the conspiracy but weren’t criminally charged.

Rosen said he has requested a copy of the second list, which was created by federal investigators. He said the organizations will seek a court order to release the document if prosecutors don’t provide it.

Kelly’s attorney, Michael Critchley, initially requested the names in a filing in early March, a few weeks after a footnote in a government filing referred to individuals “who may have had knowledge of the conspiracy or took actions that happened to further its goals” but did not join the conspiracy.

(DAVID PORTER)

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