Senator Indicted on Federal Corruption Charges

Originally published on April 2, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Federal prosecutors indicted Sen. Robert Menendez on corruption charges on Wednesday for allegedly accepting lavish gifts and contributions in exchange for political favors. According to the Justice Department’s public integrity unit, Sen. Menendez used his position to advance the business interests of campaign contributor and Florida ophthalmologist, Dr. Salomon Melgen. Investigated for years by the FBI, the Senate Ethics Committee, the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), and a federal grand jury, Sen. Menendez and Dr. Melgen have finally been charged for participating in a bribery scheme.

After receiving an anonymous tip, the FBI began investigating allegations that Dr. Melgen had purchased underage prostitutes for Menendez during one of his trips to the Dominican Republic. Although the prostitutes eventually recanted their stories, the FBI and HHS investigators raided Dr. Melgen’s offices in January 2013. Less than a month later, Menendez became Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In March 2013, a federal grand jury in Miami reportedly began investigating Menendez’s questionable relationship with Dr. Melgen. After acknowledging that he had failed to disclose two free trips aboard Dr. Melgen’s private plane in 2010, Menendez wrote the doctor a personal check for $58,500 to reimburse him for the rides. The Senate Ethics Committee launched an investigation into why Menendez did not disclose the flights earlier.

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Senator Expected to Face Federal Corruption Charges

Originally published on March 7, 2015, at NationofChange.org

The Justice Department is preparing to file criminal corruption charges against former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Robert “Bob” Menendez of New Jersey. A federal grand jury began investigating the senator two years ago after the FBI and Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) delved into allegations of Menendez exchanging political favors for lavish gifts from campaign contributor and Florida ophthalmologist, Dr. Salomon Melgen. In exchange for vacation trips and political donations, Menendez has allegedly obstructed a program to improve port security and attempted to interfere with Medicare’s reimbursement policies in order to advance Dr. Melgen’s business prospects.

A month after Sen. Menendez assumed office on January 17, 2006, Dr. Melgen began negotiations to purchase ICSSI, a Dominican company contracted to provide cargo screening in the Dominican Republic. In 2002, ICSSI had acquired a contract to provide screening throughout the country, but the government suspended the deal claiming the contract was too expensive and the bidding was too uncompetitive. Intent on purchasing ICSSI, Dr. Melgen fought to reinstate the contract, which was reportedly worth $500 million over 20 years.

During this time, Menendez began pushing legislation to require screening all ship containers headed to the U.S. In 2006, the Department of Homeland Security donated an x-ray scanning device to the Dominican Republic. Inspectors working at the Dominican port at Multimodal Caucedo found 5,000lbs of cocaine in a cargo container of peaches during the first week of operating the device.

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