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The Latest: Visa efforts take center stage at Menendez trial

Posted September 12

— The Latest on the bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and wealthy donor (all times local):

3:25 p.m.

The bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey has focused on visas the Democratic senator helped get for the alleged girlfriends of a wealthy donor.

Rosiell Polanco-Suera described how her visa application initially was denied in 2008 then approved. She said after the denial, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen told her he was "going to fix it" by talking to Menendez.

Menendez is charged with accepting bribes from Melgen in exchange for political influence.

During questioning of Svitlana Buchyk (BOO'-chick), prosecutors showed she had dinner with Melgen and Menendez in Miami, and Melgen joked that Menendez was the person who obtained her visa for her.

Defense attorneys want to show Menendez's involvement in the visa applications was something he did normally and that the women received visas on merit.

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12:15 p.m.

The alleged girlfriend of a wealthy donor on trial for bribery with U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is on the witness stand.

Rosiell Polanco-Suera testified Tuesday her visa application was initially denied in 2008 then approved. She said after the denial, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen said he was "going to fix it" by talking to Menendez.

A former Menendez staffer testified Monday that the senator told him to "call the ambassador" after the application was denied.

Polanco-Suera testified that at the first visa interview, she was treated abruptly. She said at the second interview, she was treated better and the visa was approved.

Menendez is charged with accepting bribes from Melgen in exchange for using his political influence.

Defense attorneys have said it was customary for Menendez to help with visa applications.

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10:30 a.m.

Testimony at the bribery trial of Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez has resumed with a former staffer in his office back on the stand.

Mark Lopes testified Monday that Menendez intervened in visa applications for friends of Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen. The government has alleged Menendez helped three of the married Melgen's girlfriends get visas.

Lopes also testified Monday he didn't believe Menendez did anything improper regarding the visas.

Menendez is charged with accepting bribes from Melgen in exchange for using his political influence. The two have pleaded not guilty and say the gifts were expressions of their lengthy friendship and not bribes.

The cross-examination of Lopes by attorneys for Menendez resumed Tuesday.

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