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NJ City Ex-Mayor Appealing Bribery Jury Instructions in 3rd Cir.

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 07, 2011 4:11 PM

Lawyers for the burlesque-dancer turned mayor from New Jersey are appealing the jury instructions in her corruption trial. The appeal is now before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and oral arguments were heard before a three-judge panel in June.

Seventy-six year old Leona Beldini is facing three years of jail time and was convicted last year on charges of corruption and bribery in the massive sting operation dubbed “Bid Rig III.”

Beldini was arrested in 2009, along with several others, including a rabbi, when undercover government informant Solomon Dwek posed as a real estate developer and offered bribes in exchange for real estate contracts.

Beldini was convicted of illegally accepting two campaign contributions in the amount of $10,000, reports the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

However, Beldini's attorney, Brian Neary, is arguing that the jury received the wrong instructions regarding the alleged bribes, saying that there needed to be more explanation on the nature of bribery and specifics on the "quid pro quo" aspect of a bribe. Neary claims that the jury should have been told that the money could only be considered a bribe if it was correlated with an actual action Beldini took in return for the bribe money.

"I'm giving you money not in anticipation of a result, but a complete expectation of a specific act, as opposed to a political contribution for this candidate," Neary argued before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Assistant U.S. District Attorney, however, told the three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that "people know what a bribe is."

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