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politics

Menendez Corruption Case Ends In Mistrial

Robert Menendez
Robert Menendez Photo Credit: File

A mistrial has been declared in the corruption trial of United States Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey after jurors said they were unable to reach a verdict.

The judge declared the mistrial shortly before noon Thursday after the jury sent him a note following four days of deliberations that they were hopelessly deadlocked.

The note from the jury was read in the courtroom.

"We can not reach a unanimous decision on any of the charges," the note said. "Nor are we willing to move away from our strong convictions."

Prosecutors did not say whether they would retry Menendez and his co-defendant Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, who was accused of providing lavish gifts and travel to Menendez in exchange for government favors including lobbying on his behalf during an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute.

In a statement, the Justice Department thanked the jury, and said: The department will carefully consider next steps in this important matter and report to the court at the appropriate time."

During a press conference following the decision, Menendez said: “The way this case started was wrong, the way it was investigated was wrong, the way it was prosecuted was wrong, and the way it was tried was wrong as well."

Menendez, tearful at times during his press conference, acted as though he had been exonerated instead of the trail ending in a mistrial.

During the trial, defense attorneys sought to prove the two had been friends before Menendez became a senator, while the prosecutors argued that a friendship between people with power and money could be corrupted and the gifts and trips were evidence of illegal behavior.

The federal bribery charges were the first in nine years against that a sitting U.S. senator.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Menendez after the mistrial.

"Sen. Menendez was indicted on numerous federal felonies," McConnell said in a statement. "He is one of only 12 U.S. Senators to have been indicted in our history. His trial shed light on serious accusations of violating the public’s trust as an elected official, as well as potential violations of the Senate’s Code of Conduct."

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