A federal judge granted a request to acquit [order, PDF] Senator Bob Menendez and his friend Salomon Melgen Wednesday on several charges in a bribery case that ended in a mistrial [JURIST report].
The democratic senator from New Jersey was charged in 2015 with 18 counts of bribery, fraud, violating the Travel Act and making false statements to government officials. In the bribery charges, it was alleged that Melgen had bribed the senator with political donations and an extravagant vacation in Paris. When the jury was unable to come to a unanimous verdict a mistrial was declared. After the jury deadlocked the defendants moved for acquittal. This motion was granted on the seven counts related to the political donations because the government failed to sufficiently prove a connection between the donations and specific public acts taken by Menendez.
The Department of Justice was already planning for a retrial when Wednesday’s judgement was announced. Attorneys for Menendez and Melgen have requested the government reconsider the retrial. Since the jury voted 10-2 for acquittal and the judge repudiated [opinion, PDF] part of the government’s case, the prospects of success upon retrial are doubtful. If there is a retrial, a will be a new judge handling the case. Upon granting the acquittal he also recused himself from all further proceedings related to these charges.
Menendez is running for re-election in 2018 and is favored to win.