Crime

SCOTUS Refuses To Dismiss Case Against Sen. Menendez

| by Ray Brown
Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New JerseyDemocratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to throw out a corruption case against Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who will now have to stand trial.

"It's disappointing that the Supreme Court did not take this opportunity to set a clear, bright line of the separation of powers to ensure that Congress remains an independent and co-equal branch of government, free of interference and retribution from the executive as the Framers intended," Menendez's attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement published on the Chadbourne & Parke website.

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The statement added: "While the senator always understood it is rare that the Supreme Court hears any case before trial, given the gravity of the Constitutional issues raised, he believed it was important to try."

"As the senator has been saying for more than four years since the government began chasing these wild allegations, he has always acted in accordance with the law," Lowell said. "Sen. Menendez remains confident that he will be vindicated when all the facts are heard at trial."

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Menendez is accused of receiving bribes amounting to nearly $1 million, lavish flights on private jets, free lodging in Paris and the Caribbean, and illegal campaign contributions to his successful 2012 reelection bid, reports NorthJersey.com.

The gifts and cash Menendez allegedly received were suspected to be in exchange for favors to benefit the interests of co-defendent Solomon Melgen, a wealthy ophthalmologist based in South Florida.

In April 2015, Menendez was indicted on 14 felony counts related to the alleged bribery, reported Politico.

At the heart of the federal prosecutors' allegations is that Menendez intervened with federal agencies to help Melgen get out of a multimillion dollar Medicare dispute and also helped Melgen's girlfriends from the Dominican Republic get U.S. visas.

One of the documents used as evidence against both men is a letter from one of Melgen's girlfriends asking about the visa.

"I write to remind you that you need to send me a copy of what Senator Bob Menendez's office sent you, which I need for the embassy," the woman wrote, according to CNN. "And also remember the bank thing please. Thank You. A Kiss."

Both Menendez and Melgen say they area innocent.

In addition to the bribery charges, Melgen faces 76 counts of Medicare fraud that amount to $190 million between 2004 and 2013, according to the Palm Beach Post. If convicted, the 62-year-old Dominican Republic native faces up to 610 years in prison. 

Sources: Politico, CNN, Palm Beach Post, NorthJersey.com, Chadbourne & Parke / Photo credit: www.GlynLowe.com/Flickr