The top-ranking Assembly Democrat heading up the investigation into the so-called "Bridgegate" scandal has referred contempt charges against a former top Port Authority executive to the Mercer County prosecutor.
John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, said Monday former Port Authority executive David Wildstein faces contempt charges after he refused to answer questions before the Assembly transportation committee last week.
Wildstein asserted his Fifth Amendment rights during the committee’s inquiry into the sudden closure of lanes to the George Washington bridge in September.
Wisniewski sent a letter to Joseph Bocchini Jr., Mercer county prosecutor, along with a transcript of Thursday’s meeting and a copy of the state statute which says refusal to answer questions, after waiving your Constitutional right to remain silent, is a misdemeanor.
Bocchini said he has received the letter and documents from Wisniewski and will review it to see if a charge is warranted.
“It is my understanding after speaking with Alan Zegas, Mr. Wildstein’s counsel, that an appeal on the contempt finding is forthcoming,” Bocchini said. “In that case, any action on the part of my office would logically be stayed pending the appellate decision.”
Wisniewski believes Wildstein waived his rights when he supplied information to the committee.
“The committee unanimously believes that Mr. Wildstein’s obfuscation of our investigation rises to the level of contempt under existing state statutes,” Wisniewski said in a release. “I’m hopeful that the Mercer County prosecutor will see it fit to take up this matter in an effort to aid our quest to protect taxpayer resources from further abuse."
Zegas has previously said he would fight the charge, but could not be immediately reached for comment.