New Jersey prosecutors said Friday they will not pursue a criminal misconduct case against Republican Gov. Chris Christie in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.
The decision stems from a citizen complaint that was filed against Christie last fall by former Teaneck firefighter William Brennan.
Nonetheless, a municipal court judge in Fort Lee is still scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday morning on whether he believes there may be probable cause to pursue an official misconduct charge against Christie.
Brennan's complaint accused Christie of failing to act to reopen the lanes that were ordered closed in an alleged political revenge plot to punish the Fort Lee mayor who didn't endorse Christie in 2013. Two of Christie's former aides were convicted in federal court in November.
The Bergen County prosecutors said it reviewed the evidence submitted in the bridge lane-closing trial and found that Brennan's charge that Christie committed official misconduct could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Prosecutors also said the citizen complaint shouldn't have been heard in the first place, writing in a letter to Judge Bonnie Mizdol that such complaints are reserved for minor crimes and involve matters where the citizen has "personal knowledge of the offense."
The prosecutor's office also expressed concern that citizen complaints could be used to harass defedants or gain an advantage in related civil matters, or to allow political candidates to charge political opponents with "fraud or some other nefarious activity" on the eve of an election.
Christie's office said in a statement that the governor was "gratified" the "baseless fiasco" has ended.
"It is right and appropriate that this injustice against the Governor is finally over," spokesman Brian Murray said.
If Brennan's complaint is allowed to go forward, prosecutors would have to collect evidence and present it to a grand jury, which would have to hand up an indictment before Christie could face a criminal trial.
But in Friday's letter, prosecutors say they've examined the transcripts from the federal trial and have concluded they could not prove the charges sufficiently.
Official misconduct is punishable by a potential prison term of five to 10 years upon conviction.