Did Chris Christie just call Kim Guadagno a criminal over her 1998 grand jury leak?

“We will prosecute you if we find out you leaked this stuff”

Newark — Governor Chris Christie on ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper” called the leaking of grand jury information, “a crime if prosecutors or agents leaked it.” As an Assistant United States Attorney in 1998, Kim Guadagno was reprimanded by a federal judge for leaking grand jury information.

When asked yesterday about leaks of alleged grand jury information in the ongoing investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into meddling by Russia in the 2016 election, Christie said, “There are very strict criminal laws about disclosing grand jury information…it could be a crime.”

However, in a 1998 case, Guadagno was found to have leaked grand jury information, triggering an automatic investigation by the Justice Department. This led to her being “castigated” by a federal judge, who said at the time that he “cannot find words strong enough to express its concern with the way in which the United States Attorney’s Office went about its preparation and ultimate dissemination’ of the memo.”

During the 2009 campaign, Christie dismissed the issue, but now, however, takes a different view, saying, “As a prosecutor I can tell you, that was the thing that we emphasized the most with our prosecutors and our agents was, ‘Let me tell you, something, we will prosecute you if we find out you leaked this stuff.”

“If Governor Christie thinks leaking grand jury information is a crime and Lt.Governor Guadagno leaked grand jury information, the question is what does Governor Christie think of his Lt. Governor’s actions?” asked Murphy for Governor spokesman Derek Roseman.

Background and Facts

Guadagno Admonished By Judge For Releasing Secret Grand Jury Information When She Served As Assistant United States Attorney.  “Shortly before leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1998, Guadagno had a run-in with a federal judge for having posted secret grand jury testimony on the office’s Web site. The information concerned the government’s prosecution of kickback artist J. David Smith, the national sales manager of GTECH Holding Corp., a company that sells systems and services for lotteries and other gaming enterprises. A presentence memo, prepared by Guadagno , made reference to testimony concerning a GTECH consultant in Texas, former Lieut. Gov. Ben Barnes, who was never charged with a crime. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Politan ruled that Guadagno and other prosecutors violated Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e) — prohibiting extrajudicial release of confidential information — and Fed. R. Crim. P. 32 — governing the disclosure of presentencing reports. He ordered the U.S. Attorney’s Office to post an apology on its Web site but decided against citing Guadagno for contempt. The office posted an apology but denied any wrongdoing.” (New Jersey Law Journal, 7/27/09)

Guadagno’s Ethics Publicly Questioned By Judge Who Ordered Her To Publicly Acknowledge And Apologize For Her Violation.  “Politan ordered Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Guadagno to write a court-approved apology to the parties involved and to post it on the same Web site where the original document – a sentencing memorandum – had appeared.  He also ordered Guadagno to submit an affidavit stating the names of those who received a copy of the sentencing memorandum and any related oral and written information. He further directed the U.S. Attorney’s Office to send a letter to all individuals and organizations who received the memorandum, informing them that Guadagno violated Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure by disclosing confidential information…”(New Jersey Law Journal, 2/16/98)

Judicial Order Against Guadagno Triggered Disciplinary Investigation. The New Jersey Law Journal reported in February 1998:  “While Politan stopped short of citing Guadagno for contempt, her actions have caused repercussions. According to John Russell, the Justice Department spokesman in Washington for the Office of Professional Responsibility, Politan’s decision automatically triggers a disciplinary investigation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. While Russell says that this case automatically would be reviewed, he could not confirm that a review was being conducted. Punishment in such cases range from reprimands, to time off without pay and criminal action, he says. As for how long it would take, Russell says, ‘I’ve seen it take months to years.’” (New Jersey Law Journal, 2/16/98)

Guadagno Left United State Attorney’s Office Shortly After Leaking Grand Jury Testimony. The New York Times reported in June 2009: “Ms. Guadagno was deputy chief of the United States attorney’s corruption unit from 1990 to 1998, and prosecuted a former Essex County executive, Thomas D’Alessio, and a former Somerset County prosecutor, Nicholas Bissell. She also led an inquiry into kickbacks involving a former executive of Gtech, the lottery contractor. In that case, she was castigated by a judge for publicizing grand jury testimony. She left the federal prosecutor’s office soon after. ”  (New York Times, 6/20/09)

During 2007 Campaign For Sheriff, Guadagno Defended Her Violations And Said She Had Not Fulfilled Judge’s Order To Apologize. According to the Asbury Park Press, “Guadagno defended her actions, saying ‘the judge did not like my conduct’ but insisting that she did nothing wrong when what she described as a sentencing memorandum was posted on the Internet.  She said she was never disciplined or reprimanded for her actions and issued no apology for her conduct. Instead, she said, she received praise for her efforts in obtaining the convictions from both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. ‘I’m proud of that case,’ Guadagno said.  (Asbury Park Press, 10/10/07)

When Asked During 2009 Campaign About Leaking Secret Grand Jury Information, Guadagno Said She ‘Absolutely’ Stands By Her Actions. “Guadagno faced some controversy in the past. In 1998, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Attorney’s Office to apologize to lottery operator GTECH Corp., a company then under investigation for alleged kickbacks, for improperly releasing secret grand jury information in one of Guadagno’s cases.  U.S. District Judge Nicholas Politan wrote in his ruling that the prosecutor’s office violated secrecy rules but declined to censure Guadagno. Politan chided Guadagno and fellow prosecutors for ‘totally disregarding the serious issues of confidentiality and grand jury secrecy.’ The U.S. Attorney’s Office maintained at the time that nothing in the report was subject to grand jury secrecy provisions. Yesterday, Guadagno said she ‘absolutely’ stands by her actions and said a federal appeals court ultimately upheld the convictions in the case.” (Star-Ledger, 7/21/09)

Christie Defended Guadagno’s Grand Jury Leak. The New York Times reported during the 2009 campaign that “Mr. Christie said he believed that she had done nothing wrong in that case, because the judge ‘never referred the matter’ to the Justice Department or state ethics officials for investigation.”  (New York Times, 6/20/09)