Federal Prosecutors Announce Plans to Retry Senator Menendez


The senator and his longtime friend, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, were charged with a bribery scheme. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) after his corruption trial ended in a mistrial in November. Melgen was under federal scrutiny over a medical billing dispute, and Menendez arranged meetings with government officials in order to help his pal.

Prosecutors alleged that Melgen gave Menendez gifts of cash, trips and vacations in exchange for political favors.

Mr. Menendez's office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Melgen, who has been convicted on other separate counts, has yet to be sentenced, and some political observers believe the federal authorities may seek to offer him a plea deal on the earlier case to testify against Menendez in the upcoming trial. Defense lawyers argued the actions Menendez took to help Melgen stemmed from a close friendship, not an illegal bribery agreement. Menendez, who has represented New Jersey in the Senate since 2006, is expected to run for another six-year term this year, and the state's Democratic leaders have endorsed his bid despite the charges. "Evidently, they did not hear the overwhelming voices of the New Jerseyans who served on the jury this fall", she said.

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"We have almost 10 different individuals who had nothing to do with the case, who were gone to and were asked, 'What can you give us on Menendez?' " the senator said.

The Justice Department intends to retry New Jersey Sen. Top New Jersey Democrats quickly backed Menendez after his case ended in a mistrial, but now the senator could be forced to campaign while on trial.

Menendez is up for re-election in November. If they wanted to, he said, they should "bring it on". "Anyone who watched the testimony, reviewed the exhibits, and spoke to the jurors and the alternates in the first trial knows that this prosecution was ridiculous and should never have been brought".

After the first jury deadlocked in the case, one of the jurors told The Washington Post that the government didn't have enough evidence to support its charges.