Jurors to hear closing arguments in Bridgegate case after delay

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NEWARK, N.J.  — Closing arguments are scheduled Friday morning in the trial of two former allies of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over the closing of access to the George Washington Bridge.

Bridget Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, one of his top appointees to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, are accused of closing access lanes for four days in 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor who did not endorse Christie.

Jurors were scheduled to hear from attorneys on Thursday, but the judge said an unspecified legal issue had come up. Jurors were told to return on Friday.

The prosecution began Friday by summarizing its case against Kelly and Baroni. Jurors were shown a screen displaying Kelly's infamous "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email from a month before the September 2013 lane closures.

Kelly and Baroni are on trial on charges they closed access lanes for four days in September 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie.

They both claim they thought it was part of a legitimate traffic study conceived by a bridge authority official who has since pleaded guilty.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Cortes says the defendants had an "intense commitment" to Christie's political success and felt they could use their positions to retaliate against the mayor and try to cover it up by saying it was a traffic study.

The most serious charge they face, wire fraud conspiracy, carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

The trial is in its sixth week.

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