Menendez jurors near deliberations in corruption trial

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- A jury could begin deliberations Monday in the bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and a wealthy friend. 

The panel heard closing arguments last week from prosecutors and from attorneys for co-defendant Salomon Melgen. Jurors are scheduled to hear from Menendez's attorney Monday, followed by the prosecution's rebuttal. 

Menendez is charged with accepting gifts from Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, over a seven-year period in exchange for pressuring government officials on behalf of Melgen's business interests.

Prosecutors characterized Menendez as Melgen's "personal senator" who accepted lavish vacations and other gifts and repaid Melgen by pushing executive branch officials to resolve the doctor's $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute and other issues. 

Both men deny any bribery arrangement and say the gifts are reflective of their longtime friendship.  

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