US & Canada

Bridgegate plotter David Wildstein avoids prison time

Wildstein Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Wildstein attended high school with the New Jersey governor

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's former ally who admitted closing a bridge to punish a political opponent has been spared a prison sentence.

Former transport official David Wildstein, 55, received three years of probation and 500 hours' community service for the Bridgegate scandal.

The judge praised him for co-operating with authorities to jail two Christie associates who were implicated.

All three officials claimed Mr Christie was aware, but he was not charged.

The scandal nevertheless contributed to derailing the governor's presidential ambitions.

Mr Wildstein, who pleaded guilty in May last year, was also banned from working in government at Wednesday's hearing.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prosecutors allege that Chris Christie knew his staff was using the George Washington Bridge as a tool for political payback

His testimony helped convict former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly and former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive Bill Baroni.

"All three of us put our faith in a man who neither earned it nor deserved it," Wildstein said in court of himself, Ms Kelly and Mr Baroni.

"I willingly drank the Kool-Aid of a man I'd known since I was 15 years old."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Christie has repeatedly denied knowing anything about the lane closures

They shut access lanes at the busy George Washington Bridge in 2013 to create traffic gridlock as retaliation against a local Democratic mayor who refused to endorse Mr Christie's reelection bid.

In September 2016, Wildstein told a court that the governor laughed when told about the traffic chaos during a 9/11 memorial service two days after the lane closures went into effect.

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