The federal prosecutor who helped convict former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich of corruption was tapped Wednesday to investigate the apparent political payback scandal involving New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar will advise a legislative committee investigating a plot that shut down lanes to the George Washington Bridge for four days in September, causing massive traffic jams in the town of Fort Lee.
More subpoenas will be issued Thursday, after the Assembly formally votes to continue its investigation in the new legislative session, according to state Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is heading a special committee leading the probe. The New Jersey Senate and U.S. attorney’s office are conducting parallel inquiries.
“This started out as an investigation into the Port Authority operations and finances and has led us in the governor’s office,” said Wisniewski, referring to the agency that runs the bridge. He said the investigation has shifted focus with the release of subpoenaed emails, mostly from private accounts.
Schar, who co-chairs the white collar defense and investigations practice for the law firm Jenner & Block LLP, issued a statement Wednesday saying his firm “understands the importance of this investigation” and will “work diligently” to support the committee.
Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison term for trying to sell an appointment to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.
Schar has a reputation as a bright, serious-minded workhorse who shuns showmanship and bluster. He also helped prosecute Tony Rezko, a onetime fundraiser for Obama.
As he was leaving the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago for private practice in 2012, Schar told The Associated Press he had “no interest in representing political figures accused of wrongdoing.”
“I have seen the toll corruption takes on this state,” he said.