Sen. Menendez 'sold his office'

Saul Bowman
September 7, 2017

"This case is about a corrupt politician who sold his Senate office for a life of luxury he couldn't afford, and a greedy doctor who put that politician on his payroll for whenever he needed the services of a United States senator", Peter Koski, deputy chief of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, said in his opening statement of Menendez's corruption trial.

Menendez is up for re-election next year. He told reporters as he entered the courthouse Wednesday morning, "N$3 ot once have I dishonored my public office".

In his opening statement Wednesday, Abbe (AB'-ee) Lowell said Menendez was doing "what 535 members of Congress do all the time" in meeting with government officials on policy issues. Robert Menendez in a courtroom in Newark, where opening arguments are scheduled in the first trial in nearly a decade of a sitting U.S. Senator. "These two men refer to each other as brothers", Lowell said of Menendez and Melgen, who often traveled together, sometimes with their families.

The trial will loom large over the gubernatorial and senatorial elections this year in the Garden State, which is reliably Democratic thanks in large part to a handful of counties in the North. Their joint trial is expected to last about eight weeks. His conviction was overturned after a Justice Department investigation concluded prosecutors had committed misconduct.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez takes questions after a news conference about flood insurance in Union Beach, N.J., on August 17. Booker was in court on Wednesday to support him.

But prosecutors say Menendez didn't report any of Melgen's gifts on yearly financial disclosure reports. But U.S. District Judge William H. Walls, who is presiding over the New Jersey Democrat's trial, refused to toss the charges, saying he wants to hear the government's case first.

Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, faces a dozen charges related to the bribery scheme. Menendez, New Jersey's senior USA senator, later lied about the trips on Senate disclosure forms, Koski said.

"For years, Dr. Melgen knowingly made false diagnoses and submitted fraudulent bills in order to illegally line his pockets with millions of dollars intended for the legitimate diagnosis and treatment of Medicare patients", stated Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg. Walls continually interrupted to deny the allegation. When attorney Abbe Lowell pointed out that the motion was filed according to the judge's order from December, Walls replied, "Fine".

Menendez's attorney, Raymond Brown, did not take kindly to Judge Walls's opinion. His successor would be appointed by New Jersey's current Republican governor, Chris Christie, giving Republicans an extra voice in the Senate and perhaps shifting the political climate.

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