Political News

Justice Dept. won't retry Sen. Bob Menendez

Posted January 31, 2018 11:54 a.m. EST
Updated January 31, 2018 12:40 p.m. EST

— The Justice Department Wednesday filed to dismiss its remaining charges against Sen. Bob Menendez, bringing the legal case that has hovered over the New Jersey Democrat for years to a close.

An 11-week trial last fall resulted in a hung jury. Prosecutors had accused the senator of accepting bribes from Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy ophthalmologist in Florida, in return for political favors.

Menendez and Melgen pleaded not guilty to all charges.

"Given the impact of the Court's Jan. 24 order on the charges and the evidence admissible in a retrial, the United States has determined that it will not retry the defendants on the remaining charges," DOJ spokeswoman Nicole Navas Oxman said.

After last fall's trial ended, one juror told reporters the jury was split 10-2 on all counts in favor of acquittal.

At the time, the senator said he felt vindicated.

"The way this case started was wrong, the way it was investigated was wrong, the way it was prosecuted was wrong and the way it was tried was wrong as well," Menendez told reporters outside the courthouse. "Certain elements of the FBI and of our state cannot understand or, even worse, accept that the Latino kid from Union City and Hudson County can grow up and be a US senator and be honest."

Menendez faced charges of conspiracy, bribery and honest services fraud related to allegedly abusing the power of his office that could have carried decades in prison. Prosecutors said Menendez pressured high-level officials in the Obama administration and other career diplomats to help Melgen resolve his business disputes in exchange for political contributions, a luxurious hotel suite at the Park Hyatt in Paris and free rides on Melgen's private jet that Menendez failed to report on his Senate disclosure form.

Defense lawyers argued that Menendez and Melgen were longtime friends with no corrupt intent to commit a federal crime.