Politics

Prosecutors: Menendez Bribery Scheme Started When He Became A Senator

Federal prosecutors claimed in a new document Wednesday that New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez began accepting bribes from a wealthy donor just before he went to the Senate in 2006, Politico reported.

The case against Menendez relating to bribery and corruption charges focused on Dr. Salomon Melgen, his alleged co-conspirator, is scheduled to start this week. Although Melgen was previously convicted in another case for defrauding Medicare, he has yet to be sentenced.

The newly filed documents by the feds show the government’s case against the New Jersey Democrat.

“The defendants’ bribery scheme began shortly after Menendez’s elevation to the Senate in 2006, when Melgen began a pattern of treating Menendez to weekend and weeklong getaways in the Dominican Republic that would continue for the next several years,” prosecutors said in their latest filing. “For the first four years of the corruption scheme, the all-expense paid trips Melgen provided often included free roundtrip flights on Melgen’s private jet for Menendez and his various guests. When the doctor’s private jet was unavailable, Melgen supplied equally luxurious travel for the Senator.”

Prosecutors claim that Melgen purchased a one way ticket on a private jet for Menendez and several other passengers from the Dominican Republican to Florida that cost $20,000. When reports surfaced about the trips, Menendez repaid Melgen $58,000 for the price of the trips.

The New Jersey Democrat also demanded Melgen cover an expensive hotel room in Paris in 2010 that went for over $1500 per night.

“On March 24, 2010, the Senator sent his patron an email informing him that he wanted either a Park Suite King or Park Deluxe King room at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Paris, France, for a three-night stay in April,” the document states. “In his email, Menendez specified that the rooms featured a ‘king bed, work area with internet, limestone bath with soaking tub and enclosed rain shower, views of courtyard or streets,’ and he instructed Melgen: ‘You call American Express Rewards and they will book it for you. It would need to be in my name.'”

The government argued in the document that in return for Melgen’s gifts, Menendez used the power of his office to help his benefactor.

“Although Menendez did not pay Melgen back for the lavish gifts in money, he did pay him back using the currency of his Senate office to take official action to benefit the South Florida doctor,” prosecutors wrote. “Email exchanges between the defendants, their agents, and officials from Executive Branch agencies will show Menendez’s considerable efforts to pressure the Executive Branch on Melgen’s behalf. And testimony from the agency officials over whom he exerted that pressure will illuminate the relentlessness of those efforts.”

Follow Kerry on Twitter