“Without ‘Smoking Gun,’ Feds Face Tough Menendez Retrial”
Prosecutors gearing up for the retrial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and a Florida eye doctor face the difficult task of beating the defense that the two men were longtime friends and convincing a jury that they engaged in a bribery scheme without any “smoking gun” evidence, attorneys say.
After a deadlocked jury led to a mistrial last fall, those challenges lie ahead for the government in its second bid to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, accepted private jet rides, political donations and other bribes from Salomon Melgen in exchange for trying to influence executive branch officials on the doctor’s behalf.
At the second trial, prosecutors will still be confronted with “the heavy burden of trying to establish the quid pro quo intent … proving that Senator Menendez received a gift specifically with the intent and understanding that it was done in exchange for official action,” according to Robert W. Ray, a partner with Thompson & Knight LLP.
“That’s difficult to prove,” said Ray, a former federal prosecutor.