The jury deliberating the public corruption trial of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Dr. Salomon Melgen in a New Jersey federal court told Judge William Walls on Monday they are deadlocked.
The Associated Press reported the jury “told the judge it couldn’t reach a verdict on Monday on any of the 18 counts against them, prompting the judge to order it to return on Tuesday to continue deliberating.”
Judge Walls dismissed one of the twelve jurors deliberating on the public corruption trial of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on Thursday at the request of the juror. The dismissed juror, 61-year-old Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, was replaced by an alternate juror, and the jury restarted deliberations from the beginning on Monday.
It took just a few hours of deliberations on Monday – with the alternate juror joining the other eleven members – for the full jury to send their message of deadlock to the judge
It was an unusual turn of events in a trial that has been characterized by a number of twists and turns.
When the trial began ten weeks ago, Arroyo-Maultsby told Judge Walls that she had a previously scheduled vacation that she would not be able to cancel. The trial was expected to last six to eight weeks at the time, and Judge Walls promised that she would be able to take her vacation. When she requested to be dismissed from the jury due to the upcoming vacation, Judge Walls honored that request.
After her dismissal, Arroyo-Maultsby took the unusual step of speaking to the media about the details of the jury’s deliberations.
“They are just trying to throw a good man under the bus,” she told NJ.com in an interview at her residence.
“Arroyo-Maultsby, a Democrat, expressed support for Menendez, saying that she’s pretty sure she voted for him previously and “absolutely” would vote for him after this trial, NJ.com reported, adding:
She said there was also deep division on the charge that Menendez made a false statement on his Senate disclosure forms. The dismissed juror said she was the only one who thought he was not guilty of this offense initially.
At one point, she allowed the others to convince her he was guilty, but cried about it overnight, feeling like she had been wrongly swayed. On Thursday, she returned to the deliberations intending to vote not guilty on the charge, and believes she may have convinced others.
“I would’ve never slept” if she had not changed her vote, Arroyo-Maultsby said.
While it is highly unusual for a dismissed juror to comment publicly about the deliberations conducted by a jury prior to their dismissal, it is apparently not illegal to do so.
“Often judges will discourage it, but they cannot bar jurors from discussing the deliberations with reporters,” former federal prosecutor Robert Mintz told NJ.com
“When a juror is dismissed during a trial, the court will generally strongly urge them not to discuss the case, at least until a verdict is reached, since it may undermine the public’s confidence in the ultimate verdict. But these discussions do not necessarily create an appellate issue, since these comments to the media should not impact the deliberations of the remaining jurors,” Mintz added.
The trial of Menendez and Melgen began on September 6, as Breitbart News reported:
Co-defendant Melgen, a Florida opthalmologist, was convicted on 67 felony counts of Medicare fraud in April for engaging in the same fraudulent billing practices which Menendez personally lobbied then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to pressure her department’s adjudicatory branch to authorize for Melgen in a 2012 meeting held on Capitol Hill.
Melgen was convicted for instances of fraudulent billing that occurred between 2008 and 2013.
Menendez lobbied Sebelius to allow Melgen to keep $8 million in money he had been paid by Medicare for bills he submitted between 2005 and 2008 for the same fraudulent billing practices. Sebelius refused to intervene in the adjudicatory process in that matter, and Melgen was required to pay back the $8 million he had received in overbilling for the earlier period.
In return for these and other favors, the federal government alleges, Melgen made over $750,000 in campaign donations to PACs and other campaign entities that were earmarked for Menendez’s 2012 re-election campaign, which he easily won. In addition, Melgen paid for an estimated $58,000 in air travel for Menendez from New Jersey and Washington, D.C. to the Dominican Republic and Florida. When these trip payments were discovered some time later, Menendez reimbursed Melgen.