Next week on September 6, the trail of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen will begin in a federal court in Newark, New Jersey. The Senator and Florida-based eye doctor have both pleaded not guilty to being charged with numerous counts of bribery and fraud crimes by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Yesterday, prosecutors from the DOJ outlined their case against the two men in a new brief that they filed in federal court. In response to this filing, the defense team for Menendez and Melgen has complained that it could potentially contaminate the jury pool for the case.
In the brief that was filed, the DOJ outlines a varied amount of evidence in their case to show that Menendez had a quid pro quo relationship with Melgen that may have gone as far back as 2006. The brief details everything from credit card statements to Email correspondence, Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings to flight manifests, hotel bills and more.
This is all being done to hopefully provide definitive evidence to a jury that Menendez and Melgen carried out an alleged bribery scheme for years that traded vacations and donations to the Senator. In return, he would then advocate on behalf of the ophthalmologist to help advance his business and personal interests by using his position in government as a member of Congress.
Since the brief is so big (20,000 pages) and has such a huge amount of documents, DOJ prosecutors have also indicated that they will introduce charts and graphs to summarize evidence from the documents to the jury in the most efficient way possible. The prosecution team also plans to bring in a wide array of witnesses to testify against Menedez. These will range from his staffers to pilots who flew his private jets and even officials within the State Department.
NorthJersey.com’s Washington correspondent Herb Jackson provided a good summary of what exactly Senator Menendez is being accused of taking bribes for. The Senator is being accused of influencing immigration visas so Melgen’s girlfriends from various countries could come visit him in Florida.
He also stopped Homeland Security from donating cargo-screening equipment to the Dominican government, which coincided with him pressuring the State Department to persuade that country’s government to honor an exclusive contract to screen outbound cargo containers that Melgen’s company had. Finally, he influenced Medicare officials who were involved in a $9 million billing dispute with the ophthalmologist.
Senator Menendez is specifically facing six counts of bribery and three counts of honest services fraud. He is also being charged with one count each of interstate travel to carry out bribery, conspiracy, and for making false statements on his congressional financial disclosures in order to hide his crimes. Salomon Melgen is facing all of the same charges, minus the false statements accusation.
[Featured Image by Kena Betancur/Getty Images]