Ex-Official Says Chris Christie Broke Grand Jury Law

It reinforces nagging doubts about Mr. Christie just as he says he is preparing to make an announcement this month about whether he will seek the Republican nomination for president. Even apart from the potential violation of grand jury laws, the statement reinforces the image of Mr. Christie as an intensely hands-on manager who used the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the George Washington Bridge, to deal with political problems. And Mr. Wildstein, a former political blogger who is known as a pack rat with a long memory, indicated that this may not be the end: His statement says he has emails and further “documents to be produced for inspection.”

A spokesman for Mr. Christie, Kevin Roberts, said on Sunday: “This is just the latest legal jockeying in yet another legal proceeding involving Mr. Wildstein, but one thing should be made clear: Anyone suggesting the governor disclosed grand jury information is either lying or mistaken.”

Mr. Wildstein pleaded guilty last month to federal charges in the lane-closing case in exchange for his cooperation with prosecutors. Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer, Alan L. Zegas, declined to comment on the statement.

The statement is Mr. Wildstein’s response to questions in a lawsuit by Gerard J. Speziale, who was the three-term sheriff in Passaic County when the Port Authority hired him in August 2010 for a $199,000-a-year job.

Mr. Speziale, known as Jerry, a colorful and often controversial former narcotics detective, was so popular in Passaic County that he had raised more than $1 million for his re-election campaign, despite only token opposition.

When he took the job at the Port Authority, he said he wanted to spend more time with his ailing wife, and pledged to donate the $600,000 left in his campaign account to charity.

His fellow Democrats cried foul, noting that it would hurt other Democrats on the ballot and remove his war chest, which could have been used to help other candidates. Calling for a federal investigation, one county freeholder, Bruce James, called it “nothing but a quid pro quo into giving out a government job in order to get somebody out of the race,” according to The Record, a North Jersey newspaper.

Democrats called it the long arm of Mr. Christie, but his office scoffed at that idea.

In the lawsuit, filed against the authority, Mr. Wildstein and several others, Mr. Speziale says he was brought into the job to root out corruption, but was harassed when he tried to reveal it. He ended up leaving for a job in Alabama that paid far less. (He recently returned to Passaic County as the police director in the crime-plagued city of Paterson.)

Mr. Wildstein’s statement, sent to lawyers in the case late Friday, says that in June 2010, Mr. Wildstein met in the governor’s private office with Mr. Christie and others, including Bill Baroni, then his boss and Mr. Christie’s top staff appointee at the Port Authority; Michele Brown, then the governor’s director of appointments; and Richard Bagger, then Mr. Christie’s chief of staff.

At the meeting, Mr. Wildstein says in his statement, Mr. Christie directed the Port Authority officials to fire Arthur Cifelli, who held the double titles of deputy superintendent of the Port Authority Police Department and deputy director of security, and to hire Mr. Speziale in his place.

“Christie told Wildstein and the others that he wanted to get Speziale to drop his re-election bid to help Republicans win the post, and to take Speziale’s campaign war chest,” the statement says.

The governor, according to the statement, told the others that he “would not have Cifelli working for his administration” and that Mr. Cifelli had perjured himself during the grand jury proceedings related to John Lynch, a former State Senate president who had been one of the most influential Democrats in the state.

Mr. Christie told those assembled in his office that he would first have to talk to David Samson, then chairman of the Port Authority board, “since Samson was friends with Cifelli and Lynch,” Mr. Wildstein says.

Under federal law, prosecutors may not identify people who have testified before the grand jury except in extremely limited circumstances, generally restricted to other law enforcement entities or proceedings.

The statement also reveals a list of about 40 people with whom he discussed Mr. Speziale’s hiring, duties and resignation — indicating that Mr. Wildstein was regularly involved in administration conversations, and not the lone-wolf operator that Mr. Christie has described.

That list includes the governor, Mr. Samson, other agency officials and Mr. Christie’s attorney general, chief counsel and several deputy chiefs of staff, as well as Michael Chertoff, the former secretary of Homeland Security, who was brought in to conduct a review of Port Authority security.

(Mr. Chertoff now represents Mr. Samson in a federal investigation surrounding accusations that he used his position on the Port Authority board to enrich himself, including getting United Airlines to reinstate a little-used flight to an airport near his weekend home in South Carolina.)

Under his agreement to cooperate with federal prosecutors, Mr. Wildstein is obligated to be truthful, including in any civil proceedings. He is to be sentenced in the bridge lane case this summer.

Last week, the two former Christie administration officials facing trial in that case — Mr. Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff — won a small victory when the United States attorney’s office said it would not object to their lawyers’ attempts to subpoena more documents from the law firm the governor hired to do an internal investigation after the scandal exploded in January 2014.

The firm and the administration said that the investigation had exonerated the governor. But members of the governor’s staff said they had been misquoted, or challenged its portrayal of characters and events. And the report left unresolved many contradictions between the accounts of key players.

Defense lawyers say they expect that the subpoena will produce notes showing even more contradictions, reviving questions about what the governor knew, and when, about the lane closings.

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