Two former aides to Gov. Chris Christie were sentenced to prison Wednesday for their role in a political revenge plot involving traffic jams at the country's busiest bridge, a scandal that sank the Republican's presidential aspirations, the AP reports. Bill Baroni, Christie's appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was sentenced to two years in prison, and Bridget Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, was sentenced to 18 months in prison at separate hearings in the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closing case. Both must also serve 500 hours of community service. US Judge Susan Wigenton told both it was clear there was never a legitimate traffic study, as they have claimed, and said the 45-year-old Baroni misled a legislative committee by blaming the gridlock on one.
"It was completely intended to wreak havoc," Wigenton said. "It only served a punitive purpose. You clearly knew, and know today, that it was not" legitimate. The two were convicted in November on all counts against them, including wire fraud, conspiracy, and misusing the bridge for improper purposes. The government's star witness, David Wildstein, testified that he and the co-defendants sought to retaliate against a Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie's re-election. Text messages and emails produced at trial showed Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich's increasingly desperate pleas for help being ignored by Kelly and Baroni. Kelly, who sent the infamous "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email, wiped her eyes with a tissue and apologized, saying she never intended to cause harm. Baroni also apologized before sentencing, saying he accepted responsibility and made "the wrong choice."