The Latest: Menendez jury question causes puzzlement
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Latest on the bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez and a wealthy friend (all times local):
Jurors in the bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez concluded their first full day of deliberations without a verdict, but not before asking a question that had some in the courtroom scratching their heads.
A juror asked the judge Tuesday to read back part of a closing argument by the New Jersey Democrat’s lawyer that dealt with the definition of a senator.
The judge declined, saying only testimony can be read back and closing arguments aren’t testimony.
Menendez is charged with taking bribes from Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen (MEHL’-genn) in exchange for political influence.
The question could have been referring to the fact Melgen isn’t a New Jersey resident. Prosecutors argue he wasn’t a constituent of Menendez’s, while defense lawyers have said Menendez routinely helped people based on issues and not geography.
Jurors have resumed deliberations in the bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez and a wealthy friend.
The panel returned Tuesday morning after spending about 90 minutes deliberating on Monday afternoon.
They are weighing whether gifts from a longtime friend were bribes in exchange for official action. In closing arguments Monday, lawyers for the New Jersey Democrat said the prosecution never presented actual evidence of a bribery agreement between the Menendez and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.
Menendez and Melgen face multiple bribery and fraud counts, the most serious of which carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence. Menendez also faces one count of making false statements for not reporting the gifts on Senate disclosure forms.
When jurors resume deliberations Tuesday in the bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, they will weigh whether gifts from his longtime friend were bribes in exchange for official action.
In closing arguments Monday, lawyers for Menendez said the prosecution never presented actual evidence of a bribery agreement between the New Jersey Democrat and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.
A prosecutor accused the defense of using a strategy of “distraction and misdirection” and said the two men’s friendship doesn’t mean they weren’t involved in bribery.
Menendez and Melgen face counts including conspiracy, bribery and fraud. Menendez also is charged with making false statements for not reporting gifts from Melgen on his Senate disclosure forms.