“Menendez Trial To Turn On Question Of Criminal Intent”
About two months into the bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez and a Florida ophthalmologist, jurors will be asked to decide whether criminal intent lurked behind the actions of the two men, with the defense highlighting their friendship and the senator’s policy concerns and prosecutors claiming he sought to conceal the doctor’s gifts.
With closing arguments set to wrap up Monday, reaching a verdict will ultimately mean unraveling the motivations of Menendez and Salomon Melgen to figure out why the senator accepted items of value from the doctor and took action on matters involving the physician, attorneys said.
In determining whether the defendants’ largely undisputed conduct amounts to criminal activity, jurors will have to evaluate “what was really going on inside Senator Menendez’s mind,” according to Robert W. Ray, a partner with Thompson & Knight LLP.
“Intent is the whole ball game in any criminal case, but particularly in any white collar case,” said Ray, a former federal prosecutor, adding that “in a white collar case, usually the facts are not in dispute.”
“The only question is, do those facts add up to a crime, and in that determination is the question of criminal intent,” Ray said.