May 27, 2018

DOJ Moves To Drop Menendez Corruption Charges

01 February 2018, 12:16 | Rufus Hill

Feds drop remaining charges against Sen. Menendez

Justice Department won't retry Sen. Bob Menendez on corruption charges

The US Department of Justice on Wednesday refused to seek a new trial on corruption charges for Democratic Senator Bob Menendez after the judge last week dismissed some of the charges against him.

The Justice Department on Wednesday filed a motion to dismiss charges against Sen. He dismissed three counts of bribery against Menendez and three against Melgen that involved more than $750,000 in political contributions benefiting the senator's 2012 re-election campaign. Mendendez' defense lawyers argued that the donations must be tied to specific actions by Menendez to be considered bribes. The judge said a 2016 Supreme Court ruling had undercut a large part of the government's theory in the case.

"Given the impact of the Court's January 24 Order on the charges and the evidence admissible in a retrial, the United States has determined that it will not retry the defendants on the remaining charges", said DOJ spokesperson Nicole Navas Oxman. One juror told reporters that the panel had been deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of acquittal.

In a separate criminal case, Melgen was convicted of Medicare fraud previous year.

In exchange, the government said, Menendez used the power of his office to advance Melgen's personal and financial interests.

Prosecutors said Menendez, in return, pressured government officials on Melgen's behalf over an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute and a stalled contract to provide port screening equipment in the Dominican Republic, and also helped obtain USA visas for the 63-year-old doctor's girlfriends. He also faced a false-statements count.

"Any time you have a political corruption case that doesn't include a cooperating witness, you've got a hard case to prove", Mintz said. Those are typically the pillars on which a public corruption case is built.

Walls wrote in the 53-page opinion that prosecutors had failed to meet their legal standard to prove quid pro quo related to the charges.

"Anyone who works in this world was surprised this case was brought", he said. "This case was nearly criminalizing the political process".

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.

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