Bill Baroni, one of two defendants in the Bridgegate case, took the stand Monday to defend himself from federal charges in the Bridgegate case. It is unusual — and risky — to testify in your own defense in federal court. Jurors had already learned a lot about Baroni, who up to this point was sitting silently, sometimes shaking his head, at the defense table. Now, they’ve heard from Baroni himself. Here’s what jurors may have taken away from his first day of testimony:
- Baroni was abandoned at birth by his Irish immigrant mother and left at a Catholic Charities facility in Florida. Weeks later he was adopted by a couple in Hamilton, NJ. He was raised in New Jersey, went to college in Washington, DC, and then entered a weight loss program at Duke University. He weighed 312 pounds at the time.
- Baroni went to law school after being inspired by an attorney who helped him after his mother became gravely ill. He went on to represent politicians of both parties, including Democrat Cory Booker, as an election lawyer. Baroni served in the state Assembly and later the state Senate, concurrently working as an FBI informant where he helped to build corruption cases within the Statehouse. He said he met with his FBI handler every couple of months and shared his tidbits about what he heard as a lawmaker in Trenton.