Familiar Faces From “Bridgegate” on Both Sides of Gilmore Federal Investigation
The assistant US Attorney who issued the grand jury subpoenas in the widening federal investigation into Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore also played a leading role in the criminal trial of Bridget Anne Kelly & Bill Baroni for their roles in the “Bridgegate” George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.
Before he was prosecuting the political boss of Ocean County, Vikas Khanna, the federal prosecutor whose name appeared on numerous subpoenas served on towns and officials around Ocean County last week, was playing a leading role in the government’s case against two Christie aides caught up in the Bridgegate scandal.
The New York Daily News reported in September of 2016 that Khanna claimed Governor Chris Christie knew about the lane closures as Kelly & Baroni bragged about their misdeeds.
“They bragged about the fact there were traffic problems in Fort Lee and that Mayor Sokolich wasn’t getting his calls returned,” the paper reported Khanna said during opening statements in the trial.
Christie, who has seen political ambitions sink after being dogged by the lane closure scandal, has been known to have made several visits to Gilmore’s Cranmoor Drive home in Toms River over the years in addition to having relied on the Ocean County GOP for political support in both of his campaigns.
Ocean County’s strong Republican base vote has given Gilmore influence at the state level with the Christie administration, and Christie has returned the favor with public contracts for Gilmore’s firm at the South Jersey Transportation Authority, judgeships, and most recently, with yet another patronage job offer for Freeholder Jack Kelly.
In regard to Bridgegate, we also previously reported that several Republican elected officials from Ocean County were among those listed on the government’s witness list as potential witnesses for the Bridgegate trial, including Little Egg Harbor Committeeman John Kehm, Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher & Stafford Mayor John Spodofora. Another Bridgegate witness, Deborah Grammicioni, a former Christie aide and wife of Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Grammicioni is set to become an Ocean County judge.
Bill Stepien’s Lawyer Representing George Gilmore
On the defense’s side, George Gilmore is being represented by Kevin Marino, another familiar face from the Bridgegate saga. Marino previously represented former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien, who was repeatedly named in documents used at the Bridgegate trial. While Stepien never faced charges in connection with the lane closures, he was pushed out of his position with the Christie administration following details of Stepien’s involvement with those behind the lane closures.
In the 2016 election, Stepien became the Ocean County GOP’s new campaign consultant of choice, with the former Christie campaign manager being hired to do work on several campaigns around the county and at the county-level. Stepien, for his part, has since taken an appointment in the Trump White House.
Subpoenas Are Sequentially Numbered – Just How Many Are Out There?
A pattern has become apparent on the subpoenas that we have seen copies of. The subpoenas served on each public entity all had a different three digit number following the initials “GG” at the top of the subpoena, which appeared to be a sequential number.
Presumably, the three digit sequential number following GG indicates which number the subpoena is out of those issued by the US Attorney’s Office in connection with the investigation. That would be quite a bit of subpoenas.
Grand Jury Will Meet Again Feb. 9th
The saga will continue later this month when grand jury proceedings will take place at the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey in the Clarkson S. Fisher Federal Building & United States Courthouse in Trenton on the morning of February 9th, 2017.