The Manzo Blog


By Louis Manzo / February 8, 2015

     This past week, word leaked out of yet another scandal now under federal investigation concerning the checkered past of NJ Governor Chris Christie—a contender for the 2016 GOP nomination for President. In the very first chapter of “Ruthless Ambition” [the chapter can be read for free on the Amazon website], I wrote about this very incident.

     The matter involves the dismissal of a distinguished Hunterdon County Prosecutor for failing to drop criminal charges against a Christie for Governor Campaign supporter. The passage from the book reads as follows:

   … Unbelievably, at this very same time, Lieutenant Governor Guadagno was at the center of another political and potentially criminal scandal still brewing, the news and facts for which were still evolving as word of the Hoboken scandal broke. A veteran prosecutor ousted by Governor Christie’s administration accused the Governor’s regime of corruption in court documents. Bennett A. Barlyn, a once Assistant Prosecutor in the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office, was working an ironclad criminal case against the Hunterdon County Sheriff and two of her deputies in 2010.

     The sheriff, Deborah Trout, is an acquaintance of Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and played an active role in on Christie’s gubernatorial campaign in 2009, the court records show. Trout sent some of her Sheriff’s Office deputies to assist the campaign. Guadagno personally thanked her in an email. A grand jury returned a 43 count indictment in the matter. The indictment charged that Trout hired deputies without conducting background checks—a criminal offense in New Jersey. The indictment further charged that Trout’s office also gave a fake police ID to a pharmaceutical executive who just so happened to donate thousands of dollars to Christie’s campaign. Michael Russo, the indicted undersheriff in the case, assured one of his aides at the time, “Governor Christie will have this whole thing thrown out.”

     Within days of the indictments, the state Attorney General’s Office, under the stewardship of Paula Dow at the time, swooped in, quashed the indictment, fired Barlyn for voicing objections, and threatened another prosecutor to keep quiet. The prosecution documents were cleared out of the Hunterdon County’s Prosecutor’s Office and whisked off to the State capitol in Trenton. Such action is almost unprecedented in New Jersey courts. Administration officials, including Attorney General Dow, have categorically denied the complaints about political retribution that were filed in the court documents. The court matter is still pending.

     Federal authorities have now interviewed Barlyn and others concerning their investigation.

   As despicable as this matter might appear, it pales in comparison to the same conduct by Christie as the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. While contemplating a run for Governor; somehow, evidence of criminal conduct documented in FBI reports and court documents against prominent Republican political operatives [GOP County Chairmen and fundraisers] were purged from federal documents. No prosecutions were ever brought forward, and, in fact, within months of these individuals escaping potential criminal charges, they both endorsed Christie’s candidacy for Governor early on in the NJ Republican Party primary contest.

   These incidents and evidence are detailed in Chapter Five of “Ruthless Ambition,” along with other incidents of Christie’s USAO looking the other way when potential supporters were entangled in potential criminal conduct.

     Thus far, the book, chock full of never before released DOJ documents, has been a roadmap for the various Christie scandals evolving as he makes plans for a White House run.


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