NEWARK, N.J. — The Latest on the bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez and a wealthy friend (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

Attorneys for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and a wealthy friend are making their closing arguments at the pair’s bribery trial.

They are following the prosecution’s closing argument Thursday. The arguments are expected to last through the day, and jurors are expected to begin deliberations on Monday.

The Democratic senator from New Jersey and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen (MEHL’-genn) face multiple counts of bribery and fraud. Prosecutors allege Menendez took gifts from Melgen in exchange for lobbying executive branch officials on behalf of his business interests. One of those interests was an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute.

An attorney for Melgen called the government’s case “nothing but speculation,” built on emails and assumptions with no direct evidence of bribery.

A prosecutor told jurors Menendez acted as Melgen’s “personal senator.”


9:45 a.m.

Jurors are hearing closing arguments in the bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez and a wealthy donor.

A Justice Department prosecutor began Thursday by telling jurors that the New Jersey Democrat didn’t disclose trips paid for by the donor until years after they occurred, and only because “he got caught.”

The prosecution’s argument will be followed by attorneys for Menendez and his friend and co-defendant, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen. Deliberations are expected to begin on Monday.

They’re charged in a scheme in which Melgen allegedly bribed Menendez with free flights on his private jet and other gifts in exchange for political influence.

They each face about a dozen counts, including bribery, fraud and conspiracy.

The trial is in its ninth week.


8:45 a.m.

The jury in the bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez could be in it for the long haul — if they don’t reach a verdict within four days.

The judge noted Wednesday that one of the jurors said before the trial that she had a scheduled vacation for mid-November. The trial is in its ninth week.

Closing arguments begin Thursday, and because jurors won’t sit on Friday they will have four days next week. If they can’t reach a verdict, the judge said the juror would be replaced by an alternate and deliberations would start over.

Menendez and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen (MEHL’-genn) face multiple counts of bribery and fraud. An indictment charges Menendez took gifts from Melgen in exchange for lobbying executive branch officials on behalf of his business interests.


12:50 a.m.

The jury in the bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is set to hear closing arguments on Thursday.

The New Jersey Democrat is charged with accepting gifts from Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen (MEHL’-genn) in exchange for using his political influence.

Prosecutors have sought to show that Melgen lavished Menendez with flights on his private jet and luxury vacations so Menendez would help him with issues including a $9 million Medicare reimbursement dispute.

Defense attorneys contend Menendez and Melgen were longtime friends who weren’t involved in bribery and that Menendez was focused on policy issues when he met with executive branch officials.

If Menendez is convicted and steps down, outgoing Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could appoint a replacement, which would alter the makeup of the Senate.