New Jersey U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez has been indicted by the Justice Department for crimes including conspiracy to commit bribery and fraud, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The fourteen-count indictment brings an end to the FBI’s two-year investigation into the Democrat’s relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor and prominent Democratic donor.
While specifics have not been released, it is believed that the indictment centers on political favors Menendez provided Melgen in exchange for gifts and money.
Menendez has intervened on Melgen’s behalf in at least two instances — once involving Medicare payments to Melgen’s Florida practice and another over a port security deal in the Dominican Republic.
In June 2012, Menendez contacted Marilyn Tavenner, then the acting director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, on behalf of Melgen, whose company was at the center of billing dispute with the agency. Menendez followed up with a phone call to Tavenner. In August of that year, he reached out to Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid to broker a meeting with Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius.
Both Sebelius and Reid were interviewed by the FBI during the course of the investigation.
Melgen’s practice, which brought in $21 million in Medicare payments in 2012, is currently under investigation for overbilling.
Menendez, 61, took numerous trips on Melgen’s private jet and stayed at his private resort in the Dominican Republic. He also received $600,000 of the $700,000 Melgen donated to the Majority PAC, a political action committee controlled by associates of Harry Reid.
In 2013, after the FBI opened its investigation, Menendez repaid Melgen $58,500 for two private flights he did not disclose on financial statements. His aides claimed it was an oversight.
When it was reported early last month that the indictment was imminent, Menendez denied wrongdoing and vowed to fight the charges.