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Feds will drop bribery case against Sen. Bob Menendez
01 February 2018, 12:41 | Damon Campbell
Justice Department won't retry Sen. Bob Menendez on corruption charges
Prosecutors had accused the senator of accepting bribes from Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy ophthalmologist in Florida, in return for political favors.
Annalou Tirol, acting head of the Justice Department's public integrity division, moved to dismiss the indictment following U.S. District Judge William Walls' decision to acquit Menendez and his co-defendant, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, on seven of the 18 counts they faced in their corruption and bribery trial previous year, the Hillreported.
"From the very beginning, I never wavered in my innocence and my belief that justice would prevail", Menendez said in a written statement.
In a written statement, the government on Wednesday asked US District Court Judge Jose Linares to drop the rest of the charges and dismiss the indictment against the senator in a federal court in New Jersey, Efe reported.
The department also said on Wednesday that it was dropping federal charges against Melgen.
His first criminal trial a year ago ended in a mistrial after a jury could not come to a unanimous verdict, and federal prosecutors said this month they would seek to retry him. Bob Menendez on corruption charges just one week after a federal judge threw out a number of the charges that remained pending after his November mistrial. Eleven charges remained before Wednesday's decision, including bribery, fraud and conspiracy. "We take no pleasure in seeing justice done at this stage in a case that should never have been brought".
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Jurors later told reporters as many as 10 members of the panel were in favour of acquittal on all counts, leading many to speculate the government wouldn't pursue a retrial.
Melgen was separately convicted of a Medicare fraud in Florida and is awaiting sentencing in that case in July.
However, the judge's decision on January 24 to drop seven of the 18 charges against the 63-year-old politician due to insufficient evidence led USA authorities to rethink their stance.
Attorneys for Menendez argued that interbranch lobbying - a senator talking with an appointed department head - could not form the basis of an official act for the purposes of proving quid pro quo.
The loss of the high-profile case is another blow to the department's public integrity section and reflects the effect of a 2016 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of former Virginia Gov. Menendez and Melgen, meanwhile, said the men had a long friendship, which explained their exchange of gifts.
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