Justice Dept intends to re-try Menendez in corruption case
The Justice Department announced Friday that they intend to re-try Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on corruption charges after a deadlocked jury resulted in a mistrial in November.
“Defendants Robert Menendez and Salomon Melgen have been indicted for bribery and corruption by two separate grand juries properly empaneled in the District of New Jersey,” the department said in a notice filed in U.S. District Court.
“The first trial ended in a mistrial with a deadlocked jury. An early retrial date is in the best interests of the public, and the United States is available to schedule a retrial at the Court’s earliest convenience.”
Prosecutors allege that Menendez engaged in a bribery scheme with co-defendant Salomon Melgen, a longtime friend, doing political favors for him in exchange for luxury hotel stays and campaign donations.
Menendez took trips on the doctor’s private jet, vacations in Paris and the Dominican Republic and $750,000 in campaign contributions, the government said in the court proceedings.
In exchange, prosecutors charged, the New Jersey Democrat helped Melgen’s foreign mistresses secure visas, intervened in a multimillion-dollar Medicare dispute and pressured U.S. officials to safeguard a lucrative port security contract in the Dominican Republic.
The weeks-long trial brought several dramatic moments, particularly when a juror who was dismissed for a planned vacation told reporters during deliberations that the jury was divided in the case, and that she thought Menendez should be found not guilty.
After more than a week of deliberations, jurors sent a note to U.S. District Judge William Walls notifying him that they were unable to reach a unanimous decision. The judge declared a mistrial after interviewing jurors in his office, saying that there was “no alternative.”
Menendez hailed the mistrial as a victory.
“To those who were digging my political grave so they could jump into my seat, I know who you are and I won’t forget you,” he said at the time.
Melgen was convicted last year in a separate Medicare fraud case in Florida. Prosecutors are seeking a 30-year sentence for the 63-year-old eye doctor, though Melgen is seeking leniency.
Menendez is up for reelection in 2018. He is widely expected to seek another term in office, though he has not made a formal announcement about his plans.
– Updated at 3:14 p.m.