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Feds intend to retry Menendez and Melgen 'at the earliest possible date'

20 January, 2018, 08:09 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez leaves the federal courthouse in Newark N.J. Monday Nov. 13 2017

And the government asked the judge Friday to not allow what it called the defense's comments that "politicized and racialized" the first trial.

Menendez and Melgen pleaded not guilty to all charges. Walls declared a mistrial after individually interviewing members of the jury when it remained deadlocked.

Menendez hailed the mistrial as a victory. A statement released by the senator's office said that he "fully intends to be vindicated - again".

Mr. Menendez's office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Menendez, 64, is accused of accepting private flights, campaign contributions and other bribes from a wealthy patron, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, in exchange for official favors.

Menendez is also charged with making false statements on his senate financial disclosure forms. The retrial announcement comes just as Menendez gears up for re-election in the fall. One juror afterwards told reporters that the deadlock was 10-2 in favor of acquittal, Politico writes. Prosecutors said he took gifts from Melgen, including a luxury hotel stay, private jet flights and campaign donations, in exchange for which he tried to help Melgen get US visas for his girlfriends, intervened in the eye doctor's $8.9 million billing dispute with Medicare and assisted with a port security contract of Melgen's in the Dominican Republic.

Similarly, when several State Department witnesses testified that Menendez had threatened to hold a congressional hearing if they did not intervene in a contract dispute between Melgen and the Dominican Republic over cargo screening at the nation's ports, the defense said the senator was troubled by port security more generally.

They also contended Menendez's meetings with officials including former Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were to advance broader policy objectives.

"The decision to retry this case was made based on the facts and the law, following a careful review", the Justice Department said in a statement. If they wanted to, he said, they should "bring it on". "And if that includes dropping charges, I don't think they'll be afraid of that".

"We are very disappointed that this Justice Department would retry this case", said Kirk Ogrosky, counsel to Melgen. They want a 30-year sentence, while the 63-year-old Melgen's attorneys are seeking a much shorter sentence and have argued prosecutors only proved he stole $64,000.

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