Senator Robert Menendez indicted on corruption charges in New Jersey April 1, 2015Posted by jefhenninger in News.
Tags: Dr. Salomon Melgen, Sen. Robert Menendez
Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey has been accused with trading trading political help for assorted benefits from a Florida eye doctor. The opthalmologist, Dr. Salomon Melgen, allegedly bestowed campaign contributions, plane rides and gifts upon Menendez over the course of their long relationship. In return, the Government says that he reciprocated by using his office to try to help Melgen’s various business ventures. Both men were indicted in the District of New Jersey for one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the travel act, eight counts of bribery and three counts of honest services fraud, Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said.
Menendez was also charged with one count of making false statements.
Specifically, the indictment alleges that, among other gifts, Menendez accepted flights on Melgen’s private jet, a first-class commercial flight and a flight on a chartered jet; numerous vacations at Melgen’s Caribbean villa in the Dominican Republic and at a hotel room in Paris; and $40,000 in contributions to his legal defense fund and over $750,000 in campaign contributions. Menendez never disclosed any of the reportable gifts that he received from Melgen on his financial disclosure forms. That presents a real problem because its one thing to just forget to disclose something but the Government also alleges that Menendez allegedly engaged in three efforts to use his Senate office and staff to advocate on behalf of Melgen’s personal and financial interests. First, Menendez allegedly pressured executive agencies in connection with a conflict between Melgen and the government of the Dominican Republic relating to a disputed contract that Melgen purchased to provide exclusive screening of containers coming through Dominican ports. Second, Menendez allegedly advocated on behalf of Melgen in connection with a Medicare billing dispute worth approximately $8.9 million to Melgen. Third, Menendez allegedly took active steps to support the tourist and student visa applications of three of Melgen’s girlfriends, as well as the visa application of the younger sister of one of Melgen’s girlfriends. Throughout these efforts, Menendez allegedly engaged in advocacy for Melgen all the way up to the highest levels of the U.S. government, including meeting with a U.S. cabinet secretary, contacting a U.S. Ambassador, meeting with the heads of executive agencies and other senior executive officials and soliciting other U.S. Senators, all in order to assist Melgen’s personal and pecuniary interests.
Thus, the Government will argue that this was not a simple oversight or a deliberate attempt to hide these gifts so that the connection between the gifts and the advocacy could not be made. Menendez will argue that there is no actual link between the two or in other words, there was no quid pro quo. The Government’s evidence us unknown but without any actual witnesses, the case may be largely circumstantial. Menendez can point to the fact that the two men have known each other for a long time and that the two were friends. Thus, this was nothing more than two friends helping each other out. Menendez would have advocated for Melgen regardless of the gifts and Melgen would have provided the gifts even if no advocacy was needed. One was not dependant on the other. The question I would have is did Menendez receive any other gifts that he did not report and/or did he perform any similar advocacy on the behalf of other people who did not provide him with such gifts? If so, this could help show that the Senator’s story is accurate.
Regardless of how it shakes out, both men have so much to lose that a plea bargain might not make any sense. So it would not suprise me if this case goes to trial.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article17137823.html