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Covering Hamilton and Robbinsville townships in-depth for The Trentonian. I can be reached at (609) 989-7800 ext. 207 or (609) 468-6962. Email me at or follow me @awisefool.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Defense rests, Bencivengo trial continues Monday

TRENTON — Though the prosecution’s key witness finished her testimony two days ago, much of the defense testimony Thursday in the federal corruption trial of Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo still concentrated on Marliese Ljuba.
Retired FBI Agent William Monks talked about Ljuba, and — after a brief trip into the specifics of municipal law in former township administrator William Guhl’s testimony — Bencivengo’s friend Deanna Nelson talked some more about Ljuba as testimony came to an end after three days.
The trial will not convene today and closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.
Bencivengo’s attorney, Jerome Ballarotto set out with his three witnesses to show a different picture of Ljuba from the prosecution. He has said Ljuba, a “dear friend and political ally” of Bencivengo, lent him money while he was in need and turned to cooperate with the FBI when she saw she was in trouble. But Bencivengo himself did not take the stand in the face of charges he took $12,400 in bribes in exchange for his influence with the local school board.
Nelson said Bencivengo is a “best friend of mine — strictly platonic — very tight friend,” who she had known since 2008. She said she met Ljuba several months later and she would “see them together all the time.”
Nelson on Ljuba: “They would walk hand in hand, arm in arm wherever they went...She was always all over him.”

You can read the full story here.


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