Court refuses to toss out corruption charges against Menendez

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Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has lost another round in his fight to get the bribery and corruption charges against him dismissed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia ruled Tuesday that it will not conduct an “en banc” hearing on Menendez’s case, Politico reported.

{mosads}Menendez’s defense attorney said the senator is prepared to ask the Supreme Court to take up his appeal.

“As he has said from the outset, Senator Menendez has always acted in accordance with the law and that, once all of the facts are presented in court, he is confident that he will be exonerated,” Abbe Lowell said in a statement.

“He believes the legal issues in his case are important enough to seek review from the trial court, the appeals court and the Supreme Court. These are the steps he has pursued and will continue to show that the allegations against him are wrong.”

The Department of Justice (DOJ), meanwhile, on Tuesday urged a federal judge in Newark to start the trial for Menendez and Dr. Salomon Melgen, his co-defendant, as soon as possible.

“It has been 17 months since a grand jury sitting in the District of New Jersey indicted Senator Menendez and Dr. Melgen for numerous counts of corruption,” federal prosecutors said in a court filing.

“Accordingly, the government respectfully requests that the court schedule a status conference and set this case for trial at the earliest possible date.”

Federal authorities indicted Menendez in August 2015 on 14 corruption charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud.

Their case stems from Menendez’s relationship with Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist and political donor.

The DOJ alleged that Melgen bribed Menendez with gifts ranging from stays at a Caribbean villa to use of private jets.

The 68-page indictment charged that Menendez hid a number of those gifts and did not report any he received between 2007 and 2012.

Menendez allegedly helped Melgen secure immigrant visas for his “foreign girlfriends” in exchange for his favors, according to the indictment.

The senator is also accused of meddling in a multimillion-dollar Medicare over-billing claim involving Melgen.

Politico reported that Menendez has argued he is exempt from charges that he improperly aided Melgen by the speech or debate clause.

The speech or debate clause is a constitutional privilege that shields lawmakers and staff from legal action over legitimate legislative activities.

Tags Bob Menendez Congress Corruption Democrats senators

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