- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

Some of the players in the scandal surrounding the politically motivated closures of lanes near the George Washington Bridge in 2013:

DAVID WILDSTEIN

Wildstein, who went to high school with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Friday.

He was hired in 2010 at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey by Christie’s top appointee there, deputy executive director Bill Baroni. By then, Wildstein had served as mayor of his hometown and became known in New Jersey as a political blogger who used the name Wally Edge.

He announced his resignation as the Port Authority’s director of interstate capital projects in December 2013, saying he did not want to be a distraction. It was originally to be effective Jan. 1, 2014, but Christie made him leave the job earlier.

In January 2014, Wildstein appeared before a legislative committee investigating the lane closures, but he declined to answer any questions and invoked his right not to incriminate himself.

His lawyer says he had evidence that Christie knew about the lane closures as they were happening.

Wildstein graduated from Livingston High School one year before Christie, but the governor has said they were not friends as teenagers.

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BRIDGET KELLY

Kelly was charged Friday with nine counts, including conspiracy and fraud, but said that she is innocent.

She served as Christie’s deputy chief of staff for intergovernmental affairs. She did not testify before the legislative committee, invoking her right not to incriminate herself.

A taxpayer-funded report on the lane closings commissioned by Christie’s office portrayed her as someone who acted without the administration’s approval as she plotted the traffic tie-ups, noting that she had personal problems, including a sick child and a romantic breakup.

Her lawyer, Michael Critchley, said that Kelly felt betrayed by Christie for calling her “stupid” and a “liar” after firing her.

“For over a year, I have remained quiet while many of the people I believed in, trusted and respected have attempted to publicly discredit and even humiliate me,” she said at a news conference. “I am here to say that I will no longer allow the lies that have been said about me or my role in the George Washington Bridge issue go unchallenged.”

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BILL BARONI

Baroni also was charged with nine counts, and his lawyer said he is innocent.

He left the state Legislature in 2010, when Christie picked him as his top appointee at the Port Authority.

When Baroni resigned from the Port Authority in December 2013, he was making $290,000 annually.

He told lawmakers when they first asked questions about the closures that it was part of a traffic study. Federal prosecutors say the study was a cover-up.

“Throughout his entire career of public service, Bill has put principle over politics,” said attorney Michael Baldasarre.

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CHRIS CHRISTIE

Christie is preparing for a run for the Republican presidential nomination next year, though he has not declared himself to be a candidate yet.

The lane-closing scandal mostly circles around people who worked for him or whom he appointed.

Wildstein’s lawyer has said he has proof that Christie was aware of the lane closures as they happened. But two reports - one commissioned by the governor himself and one by legislators - have not found any direct links between the governor and the closures.

Christie said in a statement Friday that the indictment confirms his previous statements that he didn’t know about the scheme.

To his critics, the lane closures are an example of how Christie bullies political opponents or creates an atmosphere where those loyal to him do so.

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MARK SOKOLICH

Sokolich, the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, seems to have been the target of the lane closures.

Sokolich spoke to officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about traffic problems in his town caused by the George Washington Bridge.

In the run-up to the lane closures, Kelly and Wildstein vented frustrations about the mayor. Stepien at one point called Sokolich “an idiot” in a message to Wildstein that was later made public.

During the lane closures, Sokolich complained and asked whether the tie-ups were meant as retribution against him.

Christie personally apologized to Sokolich in January 2014.

Sokolich called the indictment a “punch in the gut.”

“I just want the truth to come out,” Sokolich said. “And I want to make sure that from the truth this never ever happens again.”

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PAUL FISHMAN

Fishman became U.S. attorney for New Jersey in October 2009, less than a year after Christie left the job to run for governor.

He is a registered Democrat and was nominated for the job by President Barack Obama.

Fishman has served as a prosecutor and a lawyer in private practice. Lawyers see him as particularly thorough.

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