The motion for a new trial was filed Sunday, with Menedez’s attorneys claiming Judge William Walls kept them from presenting a sound defense in court. Walls didn’t allow them to introduce crucial pieces of evidence and blocked a key witness who could have exonerated Menendez of any wrongdoing, his lawyers assert.
“It’s a question for this court to determine when enough is enough. It’s not a question that the court interferes with your presentation of the defense. Absolutely not,” Walls said.
The motion may lay the groundwork for an appeal if the case results in conviction. If he is found guilty, Menendez will lose his Senate seat and the next governor of New Jersey will likely fill the vacancy. Democrat Phil Murphy is currently the front-runner in the upcoming race to replace Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
Menendez was charged in April 2015 and is accused of having sold the influence of his office in exchange for extravagant bribes. He is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and campaign funding for helping Salomon Melgen.
Authorities convicted Melgen, a Florida physician, on 67 counts of fraud related to Medicare over billing. Prosecutors proved the longtime Democratic donor defrauded the federal government, stealing more than $105 million from Medicare between 2008 and 2013.
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