As we have expected for some time, Dr. Salomon Melgen was indicted today for Medicare fraud. The dollar amounts of his alleged ripoff are staggering. From 2008 to 2013, Melgen billed Medicare $190 million and received $105 million.
Hopefully, this indictment will put an end to the fiction that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) went to bat for him in a “billing dispute.” Menendez was trying to thwart a fraud investigation, and successfully enlisted the help of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
The indictment will also hopefully put to rest the allegation that Menendez is being pursued for political reasons. The Justice Department has certainly pulled its punches in recent years by failing to prosecute Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), but the level of Menendez/Melgen corruption is apparently too much even for this Justice Department.
While securing visas for Melgen’s “girlfriends” is pretty sleazy, today’s indictment describes something far worse—the victimization of ordinary people who had the misfortune to walk in the front door of Melgen’s clinic. From the prosecutor’s press release:
Melgen is alleged to have falsely diagnosed patients with serious eye conditions, notably age-related macular degeneration (ARMD or AMD) and retinal disorders…Based upon the false diagnoses, the defendant would allegedly perform and bill for medically unreasonable and unnecessary tests and procedures, which included unnecessary laser surgeries and eye injections.
Menendez has so far relied on a defense that Melgen is a close personal friend, so the jet rides and such can’t be bribes. Based on what’s in today’s indictment, the “friend” defense is about to backfire on Menendez.