Menendez corruption case puts other Democrats at legal risk

Menendez corruption case puts other Democrats at legal risk

"For the first four years of the corruption scheme, the all-expense paid trips Melgen provided often included free roundtrip flights on Melgen's private jet for Menendez and his various guests". For example, the Republican-controlled Senate in July fell one vote short of proceeding with a plan to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Prosecutors at the U.S. Department of Justice claim Menendez flexed his political muscle to help friend and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen obtain a shipping contract; get immigrant visas for Melgen's girlfriends; and sort out a Medicare billing dispute at Melgen's ophthalmology practice.

The wealthy Florida ophthalmologist also treated Menendez (as both freely admit) to free vacations at celebrity-packed luxury Caribbean resorts. The story now states in the fourth paragraph that Menendez is a Democrat, but does not note that the article was updated.

Menendez concealed the scheme by omitting the gifts on his financial disclosure forms, prosecutors say, and Melgen routed campaign contributions to Menendez through a super PAC and other entities to try to hide the source and beneficiary of the donations. "Prosecutors at the Justice Department don't know the difference between friendship and corruption", he said when the charges were filed in 2015. The senator also says he agreed with Melgen on various policy issues for which he advocated.

REPORTER: "A stoic Senator Robert Menendez reporting to federal court this morning, as a federal defendant". The senator wrote his donor in an email that he wanted "a king bed, work area with internet, limestone bath with soaking tub and enclosed rain shower, views of courtyard or streets", according to prosecutors.

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Eliason predicts that the real crux of the case will instead come to down to whether prosecutors can prove Menendez had a "corrupt intent" - an aspect of the trial made more challenging given that Melgen has not agreed to testify against the senator.

The case is also a high-profile test of the ability of federal prosecutors to go after elected officials for bribery, after the U.S. Supreme Court a year ago narrowed the grounds for such charges. Their relationship allegedly turned criminal after Menendez became a senator. Menendez pressured the US State Department to intervene to resolve a dispute in his favor when that business ran into problems with the government in the Dominican Republic.

"Menendez did not simply arrange meetings for Melgen or introduce him to other officials". In April, Melgen was convinced of defrauding Medicare.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in December of this year - his attorneys have requested for that to be postponed until after his case involving Menendez wraps up.

They allege that Menendez used his office to perform favors for Melgen, including helping the doctor's foreign female companions obtain visas to visit the USA and advocating for Melgen in a dispute between his ophthalmology practice and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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