- Two former officials who worked with Christie each face nine criminal counts, including conspiracy and fraud
- The case stems from the 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge
The jurors are slated to resume deliberations in Newark, New Jersey, on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET. They were released early to allow the court to handle some legal issues, according to a staff member for US District Court Judge Susan Wigenton. Attorneys went inside the courtroom multiple times on Wednesday, but media was not permitted to enter.
The case focuses on two former officials who worked in and with the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Bridget Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, the former Port Authority deputy executive director who is a political appointee, are each charged with nine criminal counts, including conspiracy and fraud.
The charges stem from their alleged involvement in the 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. Prosecutors allege that the closures were part of a plot to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who declined to endorse Christie, a Republican, in his re-election campaign.
The charges are based on a tranche of emails and text messages released in January 2014. In one email sent a month before the closures, Kelly wrote to former Port Authority official David Wildstein, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
Wildstein replied: "Got it."
Kelly has said that those messages displayed "sarcasm and humor" and she testified that she had told Christie about a traffic study potentially resulting in traffic problems a day prior to sending that email.
Baroni testified that he believed the lane closures were an extension of an actual traffic study because that's what he was told by Wildstein, the admitted mastermind behind the incident.
Wildstein avoided trial by pleading guilty
to one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud on federally funded property and one civil rights violation.
Christie, meanwhile, insisted he had no knowledge of the closures and fired Kelly. A report put out by lawyers who were retained by Christie's office exonerated the governor a couple months following the release of the emails.
But Christie, once viewed as a potential standard-bearer for the GOP, has seen his image and political prospects tarnished by the scandal.
Baroni and Kelly each face a maximum sentence of 86 years, according to Paul Fishman, the federal prosecutor in the case, though it is more likely that they would receive up to three years if convicted.