On Wednesday, the Justice Department indicted U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and his friend Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, on corruption charges.
"Robert Menendez, a U.S. Senator, and Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, were indicted today in connection with a bribery scheme in which Menendez allegedly accepted gifts from Melgen in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to benefit Melgen's financial and personal interests," Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, said in a statement.
Specifically, the indictment alleges that, among other gifts, Menendez accepted flights on Melgen’s private jet, a first-class commercial flight and a flight on a chartered jet; numerous vacations at Melgen’s Caribbean villa in the Dominican Republic and at a hotel room in Paris; and $40,000 in contributions to his legal defense fund and over $750,000 in campaign contributions. Menendez allegedly never disclosed any of the reportable gifts that he received from Melgen on his financial disclosure forms.
“The job of an elected official is to serve the people. The citizens of New Jersey have the right to demand honest, unbiased service and representation from their elected officials at all levels of government. The charges and activity alleged in this indictment are another example of the FBI's commitment to aggressively and tenaciously pursue public corruption in the state of New Jersey,” Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel said.
"We have no way to comment on a document we have not seen.
"Incredibly, the Department of Justice has made clear, once again, their motives by informing the media before informing the Senator," a spokeswoman for Menendez said.
According to the indictment, Menendez allegedly engaged in three efforts to use his Senate office and staff to advocate on behalf of Melgen’s personal and financial interests.
First, Menendez allegedly pressured executive agencies in connection with a conflict between Melgen and the government of the Dominican Republic relating to a disputed contract that Melgen purchased to provide exclusive screening of containers coming through Dominican ports.
Second, Menendez allegedly advocated on behalf of Melgen in connection with a Medicare billing dispute worth approximately $8.9 million to Melgen.
Third, Menendez allegedly took active steps to support the tourist and student visa applications of three of Melgen’s girlfriends, as well as the visa application of the younger sister of one of Melgen’s girlfriends.
Throughout these efforts, Menendez allegedly engaged in advocacy for Melgen all the way up to the highest levels of the U.S. government, including meeting with a U.S. cabinet secretary, contacting a U.S. Ambassador, meeting with the heads of executive agencies and other senior executive officials and soliciting other U.S. Senators, all in order to assist Melgen’s personal and pecuniary interests.
Read the full indictment against Menendez and Melgen below: