Bill Baroni wants the Port Authority to pay for his ‘Bridgegate’ legal bills

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Ex-Port Authority executive Bill Baroni says his former employer won’t cover his legal bills after he was cleared in the “Bridgegate” scandal, new court papers allege.

Baroni was convicted alongside Bridget Anne Kelly, a former aide to then-Gov. Chris Christie, in 2016 for causing a traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge three years earlier in a plot to exact political revenge.

The US Supreme Court cleared the pair of the conspiracy and fraud charges in May 2020.

Now, Baroni says the PA should reimburse him for the cost of defending himself in that case, arguing that it’s in the PA’s bylaws to cover cleared employees for acts they carried out in office, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit from Wednesday.

The George Washington Bridge
Baroni is seeking more than $500,000. from the Port Authority.
AP

“Because the Port Authority has refused to honor the promise under its by-laws … Mr. Baroni is forced to bring this action to collect on the substantial expense of his successful, multi-year effort to defend himself against meritless criminal charges,” the court papers allege.

Baroni says the PA is refusing to reimburse him, claiming the criminal charges didn’t stem from actions he took relating to his job as deputy executive director, the court paper say.

Baroni claims this stance is “meritless” adding that the charges “unquestionably arose” during his work for the PA, “specifically, the exercise of his authority as Deputy Executive Director to adjust the traffic pattern on the George Washington Bridge,” the court papers say.

Baroni, then the PA’s No. 2 exec, Kelly and another PA bigwig, David Wildstein, were accused of repeatedly closing lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September 2013, backing up traffic in nearby Fort Lee — a scheme intended to exact revenge on Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Marc Sokolich for refusing to endorse Christie’s re-election that year.

Wildstein pleaded guilty to charges in 2015.

Baroni’s lawyer, Michael Levy, said in a statement that his client “is entitled to have his defense costs reimbursed.”

The suit notes that Baroni is seeking over $500,000.

A spokesman with the PA said, “In light of the evidence, the Port Authority declined to make any payment.”

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