Days after he appeared ready to junk a key prosecution theory supporting all but one of the charges against the senator, Walls held steady and not a single charge was thrown out.
“All I’ve said, in effect, the jury will decide whose version of what happened and what did not,” Walls said.
The brief moment of hope that all of the bribery and conspiracy charges against Menendez would disappear like a bad dream before the case even went to the jury had to have been tantalizing to the defense, but was ultimately fleeting.
Using the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision reversing former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s corruption conviction as his guide, the defense had hope to invalidate the legal theory known as “stream of benefits.” In it, bribes are paid over time and not part of a specific quid pro quo.
Walls ruled specific bribes did not need to be matched to specific official acts, saying that despite hours of argument over it last week and two weekend legal briefs, the McDonnell case has little to say about stream of benefits.
“That (corrupt) agreement need not be explicit, and the public official nerd not specify what he will do to uphold his part of the bargain,” Walls said.
Walls also ruled a single count of falsifying official records, due to Menendez’s failure to include co-defendant Dr. Salomon Melgen’s gifts on his Senate disclosure report, will remain.
The defense is expected to start its case today by calling members of the defendants’ families.
This is a breaking news update. Stay with InsiderNJ for more on this developing story.