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BREAKING: Judge Rejects Menendez Request To Toss Bribery Charges

NEWARK -- A federal judge on Monday refused to throw out any of the 18 criminal counts against U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, clearing the way for the pair's bribery trial to enter the defense phase.



NJ.COM


Defense attorneys had argued a U.S. Supreme Court decisionoverturning the conviction of former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell narrowed the scope of federal bribery law to exclude the acts with which Menendez and Melgen were charged.
"This court concludes that a rational jury could determine that the defendants entered into a quid pro quo agreement," he said. "Available to this jury is evidence that the jury is at liberty to accept or reject."
Menendez, the senior Democratic senator from New Jersey, has maintained his innocence since April 2015, when the Justice Department first announced an indictment accusing him and Melgen of swapping government favors for lavish gifts.
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 The indictment specifically alleged Menendez had intervened in a Medicare billing dispute, a port security contract and the visa applications of Melgen's foreign girlfriends, in exchange for private plane flights, luxury hotel stays, car service and campaign contributions.

In a motion filed Sunday, seeking a judgment of acquittal on the counts related to the alleged bribery scheme, attorneys said charges Melgen paid the senator bribes with the expectation of help "as opportunities arose" in the future -- a theory known as "stream of benefits" -- were in direct conflict with the Supreme Court's decision, which narrowed the requirements for federal bribery prosecutions.

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