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US Sen. Menendez Renews Attack On Corruption Indictment

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
New Jersey Senate
The Florida Channel
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez has renewed his attack on the federal government's corruption case against him and a Florida eye doctor in court filings that accuse prosecutors of ginning up the 22-count indictment out of a "fixation on sex and salacious headlines."

Lawyers representing the New Jersey Democrat filed more than 300 pages of briefs Thursday night in response to prosecution filings in August. A federal trial is tentatively set for November in New Jersey.

The documents restate many of Menendez's arguments in motions to dismiss the indictment filed in July. Those include that the government initiated the investigation based on an anonymous tipster's account, never proved that Menendez and ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen were consorting with underage prostitutes, and tainted the grand jury by repeatedly focusing on those allegations. Neither the senator nor the doctor is charged with a sex-related crime.

The indictment alleges Menendez, a congressman for more than 20 years and a member of the Senate since 2006, accepted gifts and donations totaling about $1 million from Melgen in exchange for political favors. The gifts included flights aboard a luxury jet to the Dominican Republic and a Paris vacation.

In return, the indictment alleges, Menendez advocated for Melgen in a Medicare billing dispute and tried to get the State Department to intervene in a contract dispute involving a business Melgen owned in the Dominican Republic.

Thursday's filings reiterate Menendez's contention that he was performing routine Senate duties when he met with government health officials about Medicare policy and that no one involved in the meetings told investigators Melgen's case was the focus. The government said in its August filings that the quid pro quo involving the two men was "clear and unmistakable."

In a separate filing, Melgen chastised the government for what he characterized as an illegal search of his office. Melgen is seeking to have evidence found there suppressed.