NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two former political allies of New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie have pleaded not guilty after they were charged in a scheme to close lanes of the George Washington Bridge as political retribution.

Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and his former top appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Bill Baroni, entered the pleas through their attorneys Monday before a judge in Newark. They were named in a nine-count indictment unsealed Friday after a yearlong investigation.

Bail for both has been set at $150,000 and the trial was tentatively set for July 7.

“I would never risk my career, my job, my reputation for something like this. I am an innocent man,” Baroni said Monday. “I will spend every day working to clear my name and get my reputation back.”

Baroni said he will testify on his own behalf as soon as the trial begins.

Kelly’s attorney told reporters he’s prepared to subpoena anyone he has to for the trial, including Christie, CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported.

WEB EXTRA: Timeline of key events in “Bridgegate” investigation

David Wildstein, who went to high school with Christie and later became a top official in the Port Authority, pleaded guilty Friday to two criminal counts. He admitted that he helped plot lane closures in Fort Lee on an approach to the world’s busiest bridge as political payback against that community’s Democratic mayor for failing to support Christie’s re-election campaign.

Wildstein admitted that he talked with Kelly and Baroni about how the bridge’s access lanes could be used as leverage against Mayor Mark Sokolich.

Prosecutors claim Baroni and Kelly conspired with Wildstein to make sure the bridge shutdown happened Sept. 9, the first day of school – even ignoring emails from Fort Lee’s mayor that emergency crews were being jammed.

The four days of traffic jams were apparently triggered by an email from Kelly to Wildstein saying, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

“Got it,” Wildstein replied.

“Today Bridget Kelly entered a plea of not guilty to a case that should appropriately be captioned ‘David Wildstein versus Bridget Kelly,'” Kelly’s attorney Michael Critchley said. “Because make no mistake about this, this essentially is a one-person witness against my client.

“They’re relying on one narrator, David Wildstein, and he’s a flawed narrator,” Critchley added.

Kelly told reporters last Friday she was not guilty of the charges and called Wildstein “a liar.”

Baroni and Kelly could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, Sloan reported.

Wildstein is due back in court Aug. 6. He could face up to 15 years in prison. He claimed that the governor knew about the closures, something that Christie strongly denied.

Though Gov. Christie was not implicated in the lane closures in Friday’s indictments, that hasn’t stopped many New Jersey residents from believing he had a hand in the incident.

Half of the 500 New Jersey residents polled by Monmouth University over the weekend said they believe Christie was personally involved in the decision to close the toll lanes.

The poll also found that 69 percent don’t believe the governor has been completely honest about what he knew. Less than one in 10 believe Wildstein, Kelly and Baroni were the only ones involved in the lane closures.

Several recent polls have found Christie’s job approval rating has also sunk to an all-time low. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Among the charges that Kelly and Baroni face in the 9 count indictment, violating the civil rights of those who were stuck in traffic. Kelly and Baroni have been released on $150,000 bond each.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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