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Menendez bribery case dropped by Justice Department

01 February 2018

Though prosecutors initially asked for the "earliest possible date" to retry Menendez, Judge Walls threw a wrench in that plan with a ruling on December 24 that dismissed six of the bribery charges against Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist.

In a terse filing, federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Court Judge Jose Linares to "dismiss the superseding indictment" against Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat. Bob Menendez on public-corruption charges, clearing the way for the two-term Senator's reelection.

In response to the Justice Department's decision to drop the charges, Menendez said in a statement, "From the very beginning, I never wavered in my innocence and my belief that justice would prevail".

The charges against Melgen were also dropped.

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First indicted in 2015, the case against Senator Menendez ended in a mistrial past year when federal prosecutors failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Though Melgen was convicted past year of a almost $9 million Medicare fraud, prosecutors said Menendez had tried to make the case go away by reaching out to top officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, including the agency's secretary at the time, Kathleen Sebelius. Walls left in place other bribery and fraud charges but bowed out of the case.

After an 11-week trial in Newark a year ago, a jury failed to reach a verdict on any of the counts against either man. Although the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on any of the 18 counts, jurors later told reporters that the vote was 10-2 in favor of acquittal.

Prosecutors spent more than two years building their case against Menendez, whose political career was upended in 2015 when a grand jury accused him of effectively selling his office so he could live a life of luxury he couldn't afford.

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Melgen was separately convicted of a Medicare fraud in Florida and is awaiting sentencing in that case in July.

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.

Abbe David Lowell, Menendez's attorney, added: "We are pleased and grateful that the Justice Department made the right decision to end this case". Menendez and Melgen, meanwhile, said the men had a long friendship, which explained their exchange of gifts.

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Menendez bribery case dropped by Justice Department