Politics

Wealthy Doctor’s Private Pilot Flew Menendez So Often He Knew His Drink Order

REUTERS/Joe Penney

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Jack Crowe Political Reporter

Wealthy Florida Dr. Salomon Melgen’s private pilot testified Wednesday that Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey flew on Melgen’s jet so frequently that the flight crew knew his preferred drink order.

Menendez and Melgen are currently standing trial in New Jersey on corruption charges. Prosecutors allege that the pair entered into a “corrupt pact” in which Melgen flew Menendez on his private jet and financed expensive vacations in exchange for political favors.

Melgen’s pilot, Robert Nylund, said he flew Menendez around so frequently that the flight crew had specific pre-flight instructions to stock the jet with the embattled senator’s favorite soft drinks.

“Myself and the other pilot … figured these are items that should be on board if the senator was on the aircraft,” Nylund told the jury. “It was common practice … for a special passenger [to] have the special provisions that they want,” he said.

Menendez, who billed himself as a “middle class” guy while campaigning in 2012, allegedly accepted numerous invitations to Melgen’s Dominican villa, free pricey Paris hotel rooms, and hundreds of thousands in political contributions from the wealthy doctor and Democratic donor. In return, Menendez allegedly used his influence to pressure the Dominican government into honoring a port security contract in which Melgen was heavily invested. Menendez is also accused of lobbying on Melgen’s behalf after the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an $8.9 million over-billing charge against the doctor.

In addition to the frequent rides on his personal private jet, Melgen footed an $8,000 bill for Menendez to charter an eight passenger jet from Palm Beach to Washington, D.C., an earlier witness testified Wednesday.

Menendez and Melgen have denied all allegations of impropriety, maintaining that the expensive travel accommodations were simply an expression of their decades long friendship.

Follow Jack on Twitter

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.