Judge acquits Sen. Menendez on some charges


An attorney for Senator Robert Menendez scoffed that prosecutors still plan to retry the New Jersey Democrat after a federal judge tossed seven of 18 charges that deadlocked a jury a year ago.

Walls noted that Menendez may have been frustrated, not over Melgen's specific case, but that concerns he had voiced in 2009 over the multidosing policy at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid went unheeded.

With the government planning to retry Bob Menendez, shown in November, and Salomon Melgen after a mistrial last fall, the presiding judge granted a judgment of acquittal to the defendants on seven counts of the 18-count indictment.

The U.S. Justice Department indicted Menendez in April 2015 on 14 felony counts of illegally accepting gifts and political contributions from Melgen, who was charged with 76 counts of Medicare fraud for stealing up to $190 million from the program.

Prosecutors from the Justice Department filed notice last Friday saying they want a retrial "at the earliest possible date".

"The trial judge has rejected a critical legal theory on which the case was brought", Abbe Lowell of Norton Rose Fulbright said in a statement.

"With the court's decision, this case is now exclusively about the purest of personal hospitality allegations-stays at his friend, Dr. Melgen's family home and reimbursed trips on a plane that Dr. Melgen was flying anyway", said Menendez attorney Abbe D. Lowell.

In his ruling, Walls wrote that "a rational juror could not find an explicit quid pro quo" based on the evidence presented by prosecutors.

Kirk Ogrosky, an attorney for Melgen, said, "The court's acquittal on all counts which involve monetary contributions is long overdue". "The decision of the DOJ to retry the case makes even less sense than it did last week and we hope it would be reconsidered".

"The Justice Department is reviewing the judge's order and considering its next steps, a spokeswoman, Nicole Navas Oxman, said", Bloomberg.com reported.

"There was simply never any quid pro quo agreement between my client and Sen". For example, prosecutors tried to demonstrate a connection between a $60,000 donation to Menendez's legal defense fund and the New Jersey Democratic State Committee and a request by Menendez the same day to meet with Ambassador William Brownfield about a cargo contract dispute involving Melgen. "Hopefully, this Department of Justice will read the court's decision and drop the remainder of the case". Several counts related to those allegations remain intact after Walls's ruling on Wednesday. Melgen was convicted of Medicare fraud in a separate criminal case previous year and awaits sentencing. You are responsible for what you say. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted.