The mastermind of the Bridgegate lane closure scandal, which helped derail New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions, avoided a prison sentence on Wednesday, after U.S. prosecutors praised his help in their investigation.
David Wildstein, 55, a former executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a high school classmate of Christie’s, provided the key evidence that led to the conviction of two Christie allies.
“Were it not for Mr. Wildstein’s cooperation, it is unlikely that we are even here today,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Cortes told U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton in federal court in Newark, New Jersey.
The judge sentenced Wildstein to three years of probation, noting that he was the only figure in the scandal to accept responsibility for his actions.
Wildstein concocted a scheme to shut down access lanes at the George Washington Bridge in September 2013, causing massive traffic jams as punishment for a local Democratic mayor who declined to support Christie’s gubernatorial re-election bid.
Christie, who was never charged, has denied any involvement, despite Wildstein’s testimony that the governor was aware of the plot as it unfolded.