The Justice Department formally handed down an indictment for New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez on Wednesday, alleging that the Democrat used his Senate office to promote the interests of friend and Democratic donor Dr. Salomon Melgen, CBS News reports.
Menendez, 61, of Union City, New Jersey, and Melgen, 61, of West Palm Beach, Florida, were indicted in the District of New Jersey for one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the travel act, eight counts of bribery and three counts of honest services fraud. Menendez was also charged with one count of making false statements. The case is being handled by the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section.
“Between January 2006 and January 2013, Menendez accepted close to $1 million worth of lavish gifts and campaign contributions from Melgen in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to influence the outcome of ongoing contractual and Medicare billing disputes worth tens of millions of dollars to Melgen and to support the visa applications of several of Melgen’s girlfriends,” the Justice Department explained in a statement.”
Those gifts included “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,” according to the statement. “Menendez never disclosed any of the reportable gifts that he received from Melgen on his financial disclosure forms.”
Investigators have been looking into the relationship between the two men for several years, but the senator has maintained his innocence throughout, previously deriding the investigation as a politically-motivated “smear campaign.”