U.S. Supreme Court to Hear “Bridgegate” Case & Decide If Those Involved Committed Fraud
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the “Bridgegate” case involving government officials reallocating lanes on the George Washington Bridge connecting New York with New Jersey as a form of political retaliation, punishing the mayor of Fort Lee for failing to endorse then New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s campaign. According to one such individual who pled guilty to conspiracy, over the course of four days, one lane instead of three were kept open during rush hour on the bridge, which resulted in a number of issues, including paramedics having to cross the bridge on foot. The Court will now decide if those involved are guilty of criminal activities in response to both their actions and making up a fake study to justify their actions. A number of governor Christie’s staff has already pled guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy, federal-program fraud, and related convictions. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld the convictions.
Two of the defendants then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the convictions would set a precedent of “criminaliz[ing] politics.” Specifically, they argue that lying in claiming to act in the public interest does not rise to the level of a federal felony offense, but is rather simply a “political abuse of power” that should be addressed “politically.” Conversely, the government argues that the defendants went to great lengths to lie and engage in fraud.
The Federal Crime of Fraud
The federal crime of fraud requires that someone devices or intended to devise a scheme or artifice to defraud or to obtain property or money by means of “false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises… causing to be transmitted by wire, radio or television communication in commerce. Here, the government argues that the elements are satisfied because:
- The “scheme” involves the materially false statements about the study that did not exist;
- The false pretenses were used to control the Port Authority resources necessary to block the lanes; and
- The resources were payments to workers “who would not otherwise have been on duty.”
The Dangers of Prosecutorial Overreach for Political “Crimes”
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers supports the defendants, filing an amicus brief that warns the Court of the dangerous precedent set by using the criminal process for what should be controlled by the political process and referring to the government’s case as “prosecutorial overreach.”
Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys If You Have Any Questions or Concerns
If you have been charged with federal or state fraud and conspiracy charges, contact The Baez Law Firm today to find out how our top Orlando criminal defense attorneys can best ensure that your rights are protected and you are not convicted of crimes that do not exist and are best decided by the voters, not the courts.