NEW YORK – A judge declared a mistrial on Thursday in the bribery prosecution of the senior United States Senator from New Jersey, Bob Menendez, making his decision after jurors said they were deadlocked following six days of deliberations.
Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the trial of Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the most influential Hispanics in Congress, prompting Judge William Walls’ decision.
The 63-year-old senator, who was born in New York to Cuban immigrant parents, was facing a dozen criminal charges, including accepting bribes, fraud and conspiracy.
The accusations, contained in an indictment announced two years ago, stem from the senator’s friendship with Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Dominican-born eye doctor who owns four clinics in Florida.
Prosecutors accused Menendez of accepting stays at a luxury hotel paid by Melgen, rides on the ophthalmologist’s private jet and other gifts in exchange for political favors.
But Menendez and co-defendant Melgen rejected the charges, saying that the gifts were merely an expression of their friendship and that there was no quid pro quo arrangement.
It is unclear if prosecutors intend to file new charges against Menendez.
The members of the jury had reviewed the evidence in great detail but were unwilling to change their positions, Menendez attorney Abbe Lowell said.
Prosecutors said Menendez and Melgen ran a bribery scheme between 2006 and 2013.
In exchange for the gifts, Menendez advocated on behalf of his friend in resolving a Medicare dispute after the ophthalmologist was accused of overbilling the government by $8.9 million, they said.
According to the indictment, Menendez also helped secure tourist visas to the US for the doctor’s foreign girlfriends.