US Justice Department rejects new trial for senator

01 February, 2018, 01:10 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Senator Robert Menendez a Democrat from New Jersey

Bob Menendez, bringing the legal case that has hovered over the New Jersey Democrat for years to a close.

Prior to the judge's ruling last week, the Justice Department had said it would retry the case.

The development that seems to have unraveled the case was a federal judge's dismissal of seven of the 18 counts against the senator and his co-defendant, ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, who was accused of making large campaign contributions and providing extensive perks in exchange for help in a Medicare-fraud case.

After last fall's trial ended, one juror told reporters the jury was split 10-2 on all counts in favor of acquittal.

The Justice Department moved Wednesday to cancel its corruption case against Sen.

Menendez faced charges of conspiracy, bribery and honest services fraud related to allegedly abusing the power of his office that could have carried decades in prison.

Another former US prosecutor, Lee Vartan, said that the case was weak from the start and that the Justice Department shouldn't have pursued a retrial.

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In a separate criminal case, Melgen was convicted of Medicare fraud past year. "I am thankful that God has answered my prayers".

The department also said on Wednesday that it was dropping federal charges against Melgen.

Attorneys for Menendez argued that interbranch lobbying - a senator talking with an appointed department head - could not form the basis of an official act for the purposes of proving quid pro quo. "No matter the challenges ahead, I will never stop fighting for New Jersey and the values we share".

"Despite the five years of this ordeal, Senator Menendez never wavered in his innocence and his commitment to the people of New Jersey", Lowell said. His approval rating fell 20 points in 2017, Morning Consult said, but Wednesday's news may give Menendez time to rehabilitate his image before November's election.

Sebelius testified a year ago during the trial that it was unusual for her to be involved in a billing dispute, and another staffer testified that Menendez had become angry during the meeting when the matter was not resolved.

"This is the court of public opinion we're going into now", said Paul DiGaetano, Republican chairman of Bergen County.

At the same event, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said Menendez will still have a "headache" from the first trial as he runs for re-election. "We think it's a great decision".

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