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U.S. Said to Subpoena Port Authority Records on Chairman

March 10 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. prosecutors in New York subpoenaed records related to the business interests of David Samson, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, according to people familiar with the matter.

Samson, an ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has come under scrutiny since state lawmakers and federal prosecutors in New Jersey began probing deliberate traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. The Port Authority operates the bridge, the world’s busiest.

The request came from prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York, according to the people, who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in New Jersey is examining which of Christie’s allies closed access lanes to the bridge from Sept. 9 to Sept. 12.

The Record, a New Jersey newspaper, citing unidentified sources, reported that federal prosecutors in Bharara’s office today withdrew a subpoena issued March 7 that dealt with Samson’s involvement in Port Authority actions.

“We are not commenting on the progress of investigations,” Samson’s attorney, Michael Chertoff of Covington & Burling LLP, said in a statement. “There continues to be a good deal of erroneous coverage of matters pertinent to my client. That will become evident in due course.”

Hoboken Mayor

Fishman’s prosecutors have interviewed the Democratic mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, about her claims that Christie’s administration threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy aid if she didn’t back a redevelopment project involving Samson’s law firm, Wolff & Samson PC. The firm, based in West Orange, New Jersey, represented a developer seeking to build an office tower in Hoboken.

As Port Authority chairman, Samson voted for a $256 million reconstruction of a commuter train station in Harrison, New Jersey, after a builder represented by Wolff & Samson proposed turning a warehouse nearby into luxury apartments, the Record reported.

A Bharara spokeswoman, Jerika Richardson, and a Fishman spokesman, Matthew Reilly, declined to comment on the probe. Steve Coleman and Chris Valens, Port Authority spokesmen, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Committee Formed

On Feb. 19, the Port Authority formed an oversight committee to improve governance at the agency, which runs airports, bridges, tunnels and a rail system in the region.

Samson also apologized to drivers for the inconvenience caused by the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge.

Lawyers for two former Christie aides, ex-deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and ex-campaign manager William Stepien, are battling subpoenas by a state legislative committee and will argue tomorrow in state court in Trenton, the state capital.

Kelly and Stepien have invoked their constitutional right against self-incrimination, arguing that the subpoenas pose a substantial threat because of Fishman’s criminal investigation.

In court papers filed today, committee attorney Reid Schar argued that Kelly can’t invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege on a blanket basis and must show on a document-by-document basis why it’s valid.

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