Menendez-linked doctor guilty on Medicare fraud

Menendez-linked doctor guilty on Medicare fraud
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The Florida eye doctor at the center of a bribery case against Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWilliam Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president MORE (D-N.J.) was convicted on Friday of Medicare fraud, The Associated Press reported.

The guilty verdict against Dr. Salomon Melgen increases the likelihood that federal prosecutors could convince him to testify against Menendez, who is accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from Melgen, a major donor to Menendez's campaign.

In return, federal prosecutors allege, Menendez interfered in investigations of the Medicare fraud and helped secure visas for Melgen's foreign mistresses, among other favors. 

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Menendez was indicted on bribery and corruption charges in April 2015 and has denied any wrongdoing. He is set to face trial in New Jersey in September.

A jury found Melgen guilty of improperly billing the federal insurance program as much as $105 million between 2008 and 2013. The doctor had allegedly used unnecessary tests and procedures on elderly patients to drive up costs. 

Melgen now faces 15 to 20 years in prison on 67 fraud charges, according to the AP.

Menendez's attorney Abbe David Lowell insisted Friday that Melgen's conviction had nothing to do with the senator and would not impact his trial.

"As we have known for the past two years, the issues involved in Dr. Melgen's case in South Florida had no bearing on the allegations made against the Senator, and this verdict will have no impact on him," she said in a statement.

"Dr. Melgen's case focused solely on the day-to-day operations of his medical practice and the private care of his patients – specifics of which the Senator could not be aware, nor has it ever been suggested otherwise."

- Updated at 4:47 p.m.