In 2015, U.S. Senator from New Jersey Robert Menendez was charged with 18 counts of corruption, which included allegations of fraud, conspiracy and bribery. Seven of these counts–all bribery offenses–were connected to Mendenez’s relationship with his long-time friend, Dr. Salomon Melgen. Melgen purportedly bought Menendez a lavish trip to Paris and donated to his political campaign in exchange for Mendendez’s assistance with a medical dispute, a port security contract and securing U.S. visas for Melgen’s girlfriends.
When the case went to trial last year, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, resulting in a mistrial. Menendez’s lawyers then pushed for acquittal–which the court granted last week for the seven counts of bribery. It ruled that the prosecution produced insufficient evidence of the gifts and donations having a direct impact on the senator’s political actions.
The Department of Justice has been planning a retrial. In light of the acquittal, however, the defense is asking the court to reconsider. They assert that a retrial would be unlikely to result in conviction, based on the following factors:
· Many counts of the original charge have already been dropped.
· 10 out of 12 jury members voted in favor of acquittal in the first trial.
· The judge in the original case has already invalidated a portion of the prosecution’s case.
Senator Menendez is the first sitting U.S. Senator to face allegations of federal bribery in over 30 years. His seat is up for reelection in November, and he is currently expected to win.