NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The jury at Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez’s federal bribery trial told the judge that it remained deadlocked Thursday after deliberating over more than seven days, and the judge weighed a defense request for a mistrial.
U.S. District Judge Williams Walls and attorneys from both sides began interviewing jurors in the judge’s chambers, with the senator’s fate hanging in the balance.
It was the second time in four days that the jury said it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case against Menendez and his co-defendant, wealthy Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.
Menendez, 63, is charged with accepting luxury vacations, flights on Melgen’s private jet and other gifts in exchange for using his political influence on Melgen’s behalf. Both men denied the allegations.
They each face about a dozen counts, including bribery, fraud and conspiracy. Menendez also is charged with making false statements for failing to report Melgen’s gifts on Senate disclosure forms.
A conviction could send Menendez to prison and cost him his seat at a time when the Democrats need every vote they can get in the sharply divided Senate.
During the trial, defense attorneys argued that the two men are longtime pals and that the gifts were not bribes but expressions of friendship.