Published: Thu, February 01, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

United States decides against corruption retrial of New Jersey senator Robert Menendez

United States decides against corruption retrial of New Jersey senator Robert Menendez

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 a year ago, the Hill reported.

An outraged Menendez attacked prosecutors immediately after his November 16 mistrial.

As part of a federal investigation that began in 2013, Menendez was accused of accepting bribes in the form of campaign contributions and luxury travel in exchange for using his office to promote Melgen's business and personal interests with officials of President Barack Obama's administration.

"Given the impact of the court's January 24 order on the charges and the evidence admissible in a retrial, the United States has determined that it will not retry the defendants on the remaining charges", said a Department of Justice spokeswoman.

This story is breaking and will be updated. Eleven charges remained before Wednesday's decision, including bribery, fraud and conspiracy.

The possibility of a retrial had threatened to disrupt Menendez's 2018 reelection campaign. Three Republicans are vying to oust the Democrat from his seat.

Melgen attorney Kirk Ogrosky called the case an "ill-fated adventure" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department "that destroyed my client's life". The doctor, Salomon Melgen, was also charged in the case. "We hope that the Department of Justice lives up to its name and never brings this type of meritless case again". Prosecutors said he took gifts from Florida eye doctor Salomon 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.

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After last fall's trial ended, one juror told reporters the jury was split 10-2 on all counts in favor of acquittal.

He also nixed was a fraud charge from the 18-count indictment involving a $300,000 donation that Melgen had made to the Senate Majority political action committee that was earmarked for New Jersey.

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.

THE CASE: 6 weird things about the case against Sen. "So it was always to going to be hard for prosecutors".

Prior to the judge's ruling last week, the Justice Department had said it would retry the case.

Another former USA prosecutor, Lee Vartan, said that the case was weak from the start and that the Justice Department shouldn't have pursued a retrial.

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