The jury in the trial of US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who is accused of accepting bribes from Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, is deadlocked on all 18 counts of the corruption case, according to a dismissed juror.
Dominic Carter, a reporter for Verizon Fios News, updated Radio Sputnik’s Fault Lines on the trial.
Carter told hosts Garland Nixon and Lee Stranahan that he had a conversation with recently dismissed juror Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, who is currently vacationing in the Caribbean.
“She had an earful to say about this trial,” Carter said. Arroyo-Maultsby was dismissed and replaced by an alternate juror because of a vacation she informed the judge about in advance when she was selected for jury duty in August, he explained.
According to Carter, Arroyo-Maultsby wrote a note to Judge William Walls to express her concerns about the jury being unable to reach an agreement.
The note, which described the mood in the jury room as “tense,” was passed on to Walls’ courtroom deputy last week.
“She wrote a letter to Judge Wall complaining that she was being intimidated by the other jurors,” Carter said. Arroyo-Maultsby described a combative atmosphere in the jury room, with jurors speaking over each other and using foul language. She claimed that some of the jurors were dismissive of her opinion because they knew that she would soon no longer be able to contribute to deliberations.
“To me, they were all railroading him. If I would have stayed [on the jury], he would have been ‘not guilty’ on every charge. It looks like a hung jury. They are just trying to throw a good man under the bus,” Arroyo-Maultsby told reporters after being dismissed from the jury last Thursday.
Arroyo-Maultsby told Carter that before she was dismissed, the entire jury, including her, had all unanimously voted to convict Menendez on count 18, which alleges that he made false statements regarding his US Senate financial disclosure form. However, a day later, Arroyo-Maultsby changed her mind.
“Then when I got home and I started thinking about it, and then I started thinking about it, and then I started praying on it. I felt God was talking to me, saying ‘Evelyn, if you have doubts, remember the word ‘reasonable doubt.'”
Carter also explained that the jury asked for the definition of a senator on the first day of deliberations last week.
One of the jurors wanted a read-back of defense attorney Abbe Lowell’s closing remarks regarding the definition of a senator. However, the judge disallowed the read-back and told the jurors that they should rely on “their individual and collective memories of what was said by Mr. Lowell,” Carter said.
The senator’s lead attorney argued in closing remarks that the help Menendez provided for Melgen, who isn’t a New Jersey resident, was part of a pattern of assistance the senator provided based not on geography, but on issues the senator cared about.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, claim that Menendez did political favors for the Florida doctor, who repaid him with “a lavish lifestyle that included private jet rides and vacations in Paris and the Caribbean.”
Prosecutors also say Melgen allowed Menendez to make 10 trips to the Dominican Republic on the Florida doctor’s private jet, and then stay at the doctor’s luxury resort for free.
Melgen also supposedly paid the bill for a suite in a five-star hotel in Paris where Menendez and a guest stayed in 2010.
The charges also state that Melgen gave more than $750,000 to political institutions to back up the senator’s re-election campaign.
In return for these actions, prosecutors are claiming that Menendez and his staff convinced Department of Health and Human Service regulators to brush aside claims that Melgen overbilled Medicare by almost $9 million