TRENTON – Jurors have spent about four hours behind closed doors Tuesday deliberating in the criminal bribery case against Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo.
They entered the jury room at about 9:30 a.m. and are tasked with deciding if federal prosecutors proved their case against the embattled mayor, who they accuse of accepting $12,400 in bribes from a former friend turned FBI informant who hoped to retain a lucrative insurance contract with the township.
The government argues the cash-strapped mayor accepted the bribes in exchange for using his official influence as mayor to help the former insurance broker prevent her contract with the township’s school board from going out to bid. Bencivengo’s defense has maintained that the mayor’s former friend threw Bencivengo under the bus after she was approached by FBI agents.
Bencivengo’s trial concluded Monday evening and jurors recessed before beginning deliberations.
The still-sitting mayor was charged with five criminal counts, including extortion and money laundering.
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"Gov. Chris Christie says he won’t campaign for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York because the cause is hopeless: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ahead by more than 30 points. But he will campaign in New Hampshire, over and over, where the Republican is also trailing by more than 30 points. What’s the reason? It may be that New Hampshire holds the nation’s first presidential primary. It may be that he doesn’t want to mess with Cuomo, who knows where the skeletons are buried at the Port Authority. But one thing is certain: Gov. Straight Talk is spinning again. And it seems to be habit-forming." - columnist Tom Moran- Star-Ledger
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