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Bob Menendez Fate Deliberated by Federal Jury in NJ

Bob Menendez Fate Deliberated by Federal Jury in NJ

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez arrives for his federal corruption trial in Newark, New Jersey on Oct. 23. (Seth Wenig/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 07 November 2017 01:13 PM

Bob Menendez, Democrat U.S. senator from New Jersey, was waiting to learn his fate on Tuesday as a federal jury in Newark deliberated on whether gifts he accepted from a wealthy friend were acts of kindness or payment for political clout, NJ Advance Media reported.

Menendez, 63, was charged with accepting private plane flights, campaign contributions and other gifts from Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, to intervene on the Melgen's behalf in an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute, foreign port security contract, and the visa applications of a women described as the doctor's foreign girlfriends, the new site said.

The lawmaker also was charged in the nine-week trial of purposely hiding Melgen's gifts from scrutiny by not including them on his annual Senate disclosure forms, NJ Advance Media said.

Menendez's defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in closing arguments that the government failed to connect the dots that any of Melgen's gifts led to an explicit quid pro quo arrangement.

"Not one document, not one email hints at a corrupt agreement," Lowell told the jury, according to The Washington Post. "You should expect and demand more from the government when they have the burden to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt."

Federal prosecutor Peter Koski, though, said in his closing statement, according to the Post, that Menendez went well beyond the call of duty as a U.S. senator in advocating for Melgen and "exploited his public office for personal benefits."

"This is not how United States senators behave," Koski told the jury, per the Post, claiming that Menendez was Melgen's own "personal United States senator." "Don't let it stand. Don't let this stand. Hold Senator Menendez and Dr. Melgen accountable for their actions."

Lowell described Menendez and Melgen, both of Hispanic heritage, as "two self-made men" with Menendez being born in Cuba and Melgen from the Dominican Republic, who met at a 1993 Florida fundraiser, Politico reported.

Lowell said the two men and their families have been close, and noted that Menendez and Melgen even stayed in the same hotel room once during a trip.

"Bob Menendez and Sal Melgen did not have any reason to hide their friendship and interactions, and they didn't," Lowell said, per Politico. "Where is there proof these two men were trying to conceal their relationship?"

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Bob Menendez, Democrat U.S. senator from New Jersey, was waiting to learn his fate on Tuesday as a federal jury in Newark deliberated on whether gifts he accepted from a wealthy friend were acts of kindness or payment for political clout.
bob menendez, federal jury
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2017-13-07
Tuesday, 07 November 2017 01:13 PM
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