February 25, 2018

Main » Justice Dept. files to dismiss charges against Sen. Bob Menendez

Justice Dept. files to dismiss charges against Sen. Bob Menendez

01 February 2018

Menendez, 64, was charged with trading his political influence for gifts and campaign donations from wealthy Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, 63.

The Justice Department Wednesday filed to dismiss its remaining charges against Sen.

"From the very beginning, I never wavered in my innocence and my belief that justice would prevail", Menendez said in a written statement.

Another former USA prosecutor, Lee Vartan, said that the case was weak from the start and that the Justice Department shouldn't have pursued a retrial. This action reversed a decision by prosecutors earlier this month to pursue a retrial of Menendez following the declaration of a hung-jury mistrial in November.

The Justice Department said it abandoned the case after U.S. District Judge William Walls ruled last week that the trial evidence and testimony persuaded him that Menendez was not guilty on four criminal counts.

A trial would have been a major political liability for Menendez, a leading Hispanic lawmaker, as he prepares for a re-election campaign in which he is favored and faces no major Republican challenger. Though the seven bribery charges were throw out, 11 counts, including bribery, fraud and conspiracy, remained. "We hope that the Department of Justice lives up to its name and never brings this type of meritless case again". One juror told reporters that the panel had been deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of acquittal. Prosecutors said Melgen lavished the senator with free trips on his private jet, vacations at his villa in the Dominican Republic, a three-night stay at an upscale Paris hotel, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

A lawyer for Menendez said the senator was "pleased and grateful" about the decision.

Walls' decision came days after the Justice Department said earlier this month that it meant to retry Menendez after Walls declared a mistrial in the corruption case in November.

Walls noted that Menendez may have been frustrated, not over Melgen's specific case, but that concerns he had voiced in 2009 over the multidosing policy at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid went unheeded.

The senator's attorneys contended Melgen's gifts were tokens of friendship, not bribes, and argued that Menendez's meetings with executive branch officials were focused on broader policy issues than just Melgen's business interests.

Justice Dept. files to dismiss charges against Sen. Bob Menendez