U.S. Senator Menendez's corruption trial to proceed: judge

  • In US
  • 2017-10-16 16:27:11Z
  • By By Joseph Ax

By Joseph Ax

NEWARK, N.J. (Reuters) - The bribery case against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez survived a key test on Monday, as the federal judge overseeing his trial rejected a defense motion to throw out the most serious charges.

U.S. District Judge William Walls in Newark, New Jersey, allowed the trial to proceed on all charges, five days after suggesting he was inclined to dismiss the heart of the case based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that narrowed the legal definition of public corruption.

Prosecutors have accused Menendez, a 63-year-old Democrat, of taking bribes from Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen in exchange for using his office to help the doctor in a variety of ways.

Both men deny wrongdoing and say Melgen was acting out of friendship.

After prosecutors rested their case on Wednesday, defense lawyers renewed their argument that the Supreme Court's decision last year vacating the corruption conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell also undermined the bribery counts against Menendez.

Walls initially appeared ready to accept the contention that the McDonnell ruling invalidated a bribery theory known as "stream of benefits," in which someone offers bribes essentially to keep a politician on retainer, rather than paying for specific acts.

But following additional filings over the weekend and more arguments on Monday, Walls said he believed the stream of benefits theory is still valid under the law.

The McDonnell decision has caused several other corruption convictions to be overturned, including those of former top New York state lawmakers Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos.

During the trial's first six weeks, prosecutors presented evidence that Menendez pressured federal officials to secure visas for Melgen's girlfriends, resolve a port dispute involving one of Melgen's businesses and change a Medicare reimbursement policy after the agency determined Melgen had overbilled it by millions of dollars.

In exchange, Melgen showered Menendez with private flights, luxury vacations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign backing, prosecutors said.

The defense is expected to begin on Monday afternoon. It is unlikely that Menendez will take the witness stand, though his lawyers have not said whether he plans to do so.

The case has been closely watched in Washington, where Republicans hold a 52-48 edge in the Senate. If Menendez is convicted and either resigns or is expelled before Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's term expires in January, then Christie would name his replacement.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)


More Related News

'Lighten Up' Says Ohio Supreme Court Justice Who Bragged of Sex With 50 Women

Bipartisan reaction was swift after Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill said he'd been "sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females" and defended Sen. Al Franken, Roy Moore and "heterosexual males" in general.

New Jersey Sen. Menendez
New Jersey Sen. Menendez's bribery trial ends in a hung jury
  • World
  • 2017-11-16 19:00:41Z

The federal bribery trial of Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez ended in a mistrial Thursday when the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on all charges against the New Jersey politician and a wealthy donor. ...

Corruption trial of Democratic U.S. Senator Menendez ends in mistrial
Corruption trial of Democratic U.S. Senator Menendez ends in mistrial
  • US
  • 2017-11-16 18:45:22Z

The corruption trial of Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez ended in a mistrial on Thursday, after the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on bribery, fraud and other charges. Menendez, 63, a longtime fixture in New Jersey political circles who first joined the Senate in 2006, was accused of accepting private flights, campaign contributions and other bribes from a wealthy patron, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, in exchange for official favors. The hung jury is a major setback for federal prosecutors in what was their first high-profile corruption trial since a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year limited their ability to bring such cases.

Trump Court Pick Says He Was Joking When He Compared Gay Marriage To Marrying Bacon
Trump Court Pick Says He Was Joking When He Compared Gay Marriage To Marrying Bacon

WASHINGTON ― One of President Donald Trump's judicial nominees, Don Willett, said Wednesday he was just kidding that time he compared gay people's constitutional right to marriage with a right to marry bacon.

Spain awarded 1.6 bln euros over Prestige oil spill
Spain awarded 1.6 bln euros over Prestige oil spill

A court awarded the Spanish state 1.6 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in damages on Wednesday over the 2002 Prestige oil spill, one of Europe's worst environmental disasters. The court in the northwestern Spanish city of A Coruna also said the regional government of Galicia, off whose coast the Prestige tanker sank, be compensated 1.8 million euros and neighbouring France, which was also affected, 61 million euros. The ship's Greek captain Apostolos Mangouras and British insurers The London P&I Club were ordered to pay one billion dollars, the court said in a statement -- the maximum limit fixed by the company in its contract for the ship.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: US

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.