Kelly v. United States—Supreme Court Overturns “Bridgegate” Convictions: The U.S. Supreme Court Reaffirms that, to Be Punishable as Wire or Federal-Program Fraud, the Core Purpose of a Fraudulent Scheme Must Be to Obtain Money or Property.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - May 12, 2020
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On May 7, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed the convictions of two associates of then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie involved in the “Bridgegate” scandal, in which the defendants realigned two lanes of the George Washington Bridge as a form of political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for the mayor’s refusal to support Christie’s 2013 reelection campaign.  The Court explained that, to sustain the defendants’ convictions for wire and federal-program fraud, the government was required to prove that the specific object of their fraud was to obtain money or property.  Because the government failed to prove that obtaining money or property was the central purpose of the defendants’ scheme, the Court overturned the defendants’ convictions.