Mark Sheridan ()
The fast-moving investigation into George Washington Bridge lane closures last fall has Gov. Chris Christie’s administration and current and former aides scrambling for counsel—and Big Law is benefiting from the demand.
The latest subpoenaed parties to lawyer up are Christie’s reelection campaign and the New Jersey Republican State Committee, who on Thursday retained Patton Boggs.
They have been served with three subpoenas, two issued Thursday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey; the other, last week, by a special state legislative committee.
Partners Mark Sheridan, of the firm’s Newark office, and Robert Luskin, in Washington, D.C., will spearhead the representation, says firm spokesman Elliott Frieder.
Sheridan­—who handles government investigations, white-collar defense and insurance matters—is a familiar face: He’s general counsel to the Republican State Committee and was a member of Christie’s transition team.
Luskin, a former Justice Department attorney, played a supervisory role in the ABSCAM investigation. He concentrates now in defending official corruption cases and has represented judges and other high-profile clients, including Karl Rove, a onetime adviser to President George W. Bush implicated in a CIA leak investigation.
Neither responded to an interview request made through Frieder.
Ben Sparks, spokesman for the New Jersey Republicans, didn’t return a call.
Since Jan. 8, when it was revealed that Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and Port Authority Deputy Executive Director David Wildstein ordered unannounced lane closures in order to cause traffic gridlock in Fort Lee, the scandal has unfolded almost daily.
On Jan. 9, Christie fired Kelly and denied knowledge of the conspiracy. Wildstein and Port Authority Executive Director Bill Baroni already had resigned in December.
On Jan. 16, the Assembly Select Committee on Investigations formed earlier this month issued 20 subpoenas for production of documents by Feb. 3.
The same day, the state Senate formed its own committee. The panels have since merged into a joint one.
Aside from Christie’s administration and campaign, and the state Republicans, at least a dozen individuals have been subpoenaed and have retained prominent and in some cases stellar defense lawyers:
• The counsel for the joint legislative committee is Reid Schar, who chairs the white-collar defense and investigations practice at Jenner & Block in Chicago. He previously was an assistant in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, where he was lead prosecutor in the corruption case against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, now serving a 14-year prison term.
• Representing the Christie administration is Randy Mastro of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in New York, who co-chairs the firm’s litigation practice and crisis management groups. He was a former assistant federal prosecutor in New York, served in New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration, and is best known in private practice for representing Chevron in Ecuadorean litigation, in which the company was ordered to pay $18 billion for environmental contamination.
• Michael Chertoff, former federal judge and former secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department, now with Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., represents Port Authority Chairman David Samson, a partner at Wolff & Samson in West Orange. Chertoff sat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, was an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department and served as U.S. attorney in New Jersey.
• Michael Himmel, head of the litigation and white-collar criminal defense practice groups at Roseland’s Lowenstein Sandler, represents Baroni. He previously was an assistant federal prosecutor in New Jersey and an assistant district attorney in Bronx, N.Y.
• Kevin Marino of Marino, Tortorella & Boyle in Chatham, another big name in the New Jersey defense bar, represents Bill Stepien, who managed both of Christie’s gubernatorial campaigns.
• Alan Zegas of Chatham, another of the state’s best-known defense attorneys and a former president of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey, represents Wildstein.
• Kelly’s new lawyer is Michael Critchley, of Critchley, Kinum & Vazquez in Roseland, a renowned trial lawyer who’s defended major racketeering and corruption cases.
Until Wednesday, Kelly had been represented by Walter Timpone of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter in Morristown, an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey. But he resigned, pointing to conflicts brought about by his post on the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Also subject of subpoenas are: Christie chief of staff and New Jersey Attorney General hopeful Kevin O’Dowd; chief counsel Charles McKenna; lead spokesman Michael Drewniak; another spokesman, Colin Reed; communications director Maria Comella; O’Dowd’s expected successor, Regina Egea; and two other staffers, Christina Genovese and Evan Ridley.