Jury weighs destiny of Sen. Robert Menendez in bribery trial

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) arrives at federal court docket in Newark on Monday for his corruption trial. The jury started deliberating on the finish of the day whether or not Menendez misused his workplace to badist a good friend and donor with enterprise and private pursuits. (Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg)

NEWARK — A federal jury in Newark started deliberating Monday on whether or not Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) misused his workplace to badist a good friend and donor with enterprise and private pursuits.

In his closing argument on Monday, Menendez legal professional Abbe Lowell stated his consumer’s “deep and abiding friendship” with co-defendant Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye physician, “destroys every single one of the charges” towards them.

Over the course of 9 weeks, jurors have heard proof about non-public jet flights, a luxurious lodge keep and different items prosecutors say add as much as a corrupt cut price between the 2 males. Defense attorneys have argued the connection between them was primarily based on an in depth private friendship, not influence-peddling.

“Not one document, not one email hints at a corrupt agreement,” Lowell informed the jury throughout his three-hour presentation. “You should expect and demand more from the government when they have the burden to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Prosecutor Peter Koski argued in his rebuttal that protection attorneys have used “sleight of hand” to get the jury to shift focus away from “a greedy doctor and a corrupt politician.”

[Indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez and Salomon Melgen]

Menendez allegedly accepted a Paris lodge keep, political donations and journeys on Melgen’s non-public airplane in trade for serving to Melgen get U.S. visas for his girlfriends, intervening within the physician’s $eight.9 million billing dispute with Medicare and making an attempt to protect Melgen’s port pursuits within the Dominican Republic.

Lowell, who choked again tears on the finish of his closing argument, stated Menendez has devoted his life to public service and to serving to any individual in want. He argued that Menendez’s advocacy for Melgen both concerned a routine matter corresponding to buying vacationer visas or mirrored broader coverage issues corresponding to port safety or authorities waste.

Lowell attacked the prosecution’s principle that Menendez and Melgen’s longtime friendship grew right into a prison conspiracy after Menendez entered the Senate in 2006.

[Supreme Court makes it hard to prosecute corruption]

Koski stated Menendez’s advocacy for Melgen went far past the conventional course of an elected official’s work and that Menendez “exploited his public office for personal benefits.”

“This is not how United States senators behave,” Koski informed the jury. “Don’t let it stand. Don’t let this stand. Hold Senator Menendez and Dr. Melgen accountable for their actions.”

Koski stated Monday that Melgen paid Menendez to be “his personal United States senator,” a line prosecutors used throughout opening statements and within the first spherical of closing arguments final week.

Lowell stated Menendez dedicated an unintentional oversight when he didn’t listing some items from Melgen on Senate disclosure varieties. A false badertion cost is without doubt one of the 18 counts within the indictment towards Menendez.

“Bob is an honest and trustworthy man and not a corrupt person,” Lowell informed the jury.

The protection argued Monday that Menendez paid for a few of his flights to Melgen’s house within the Dominican Republic, the place he loved quiet household visits, not luxurious Caribbean holidays. The items between the boys flowed each methods and had been purely out of friendship, Lowell stated, pointing to a $1,000 money reward that Menendez gave when Melgen’s daughter received married in 2009.

The trial has taken place towards the backdrop of final yr’s Supreme Court ruling that overturned the corruption conviction of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R).

U.S. District Judge William Walls tailor-made his jury directions final week to evolve to his studying of the McDonnell ruling, which narrowed the definition of an “official act” by a politician.

Walls denied a protection request Monday to require the jury on responsible verdicts to specify the “official acts” Menendez carried out in return for bribes.

The jury deliberated for about an hour Monday earlier than going house and can proceed from about 9:30 a.m. till four:30 p.m. most days till it reaches a verdict.

If no verdict is reached by Friday, Walls stated he’ll excuse a feminine juror who stated throughout jury choice that she had a trip deliberate for mid-November. That juror will probably be changed by an alternate, with deliberations beginning over.

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