The Supreme Court has refused to dismiss criminal charges against Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) who sought to have them thrown out on Constitutional grounds. Menendez was indicted, in part, on the basis of information uncovered by the National Legal and Policy Center.
Menendez seems to think that the Speech or Debate Clause is actually the Solicitation and Bribery Clause. His trial will start in the fall, two and half years after he was indicted. In this case, justice delayed really is justice denied. Although Menendez has stepped down as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he arrogantly refuses to resign from the Senate. He is even raising money for a 2018 reelection campaign.
This is the third time courts have rejected Menendez attempts to have the indictments thrown out. On September 13, 2016, a Philadelphia-based appeals court refused, a ruling that Menendez appealed to the Supreme Court.
Menendez was indicted in April 2015 in New Jersey, along with Dr. Salomon Melgen, his largest campaign contributor. Melgen is a wealthy south Florida eye doctor who was born in the Dominican Republic and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Melgen currently is on trial in Miami on separate charges that he defrauded Medicare. Melgen billed Medicare $190 million and received $105 million, much of which prosecutors allege was the result of fraud. In 2012, his clinic was the top recipient of Medicare reimbursements in the whole country.
According to the indictment, Melgen performed unnecessary surgeries and injections on unsuspecting elderly people, including people with prosthetic eyes and patients who were totally blind and stood no chance of benefitting from treatment. The indictment cites case after case of patients who were purposely misdiagnosed, resulting in Medicare bills often totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient.
From the March 15 Palm Beach Post:
On June 8, 2010, Kermit Foster visited Dr. Salomon Melgen’s eye clinic for the first time and was diagnosed with several ailments in both his right and left eye after having both eyes scanned.
Dr. Stuart L. Fine, an ophthalmologist and expert who has been on the witness stand since Monday in Melgen’s $105 million Medicare fraud trial, smiled slightly and tilted his head when Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Harris Stefin asked him Wednesday to start by explaining to jurors what was wrong with the diagnoses of Foster’s right eye.
“It’s impossible. There’s no eye there,” Fine explained, repeating for jurors the fact that Foster’s right eye had previously been removed and replaced with a plastic prosthetic. “There was nothing to examine.”
The bribery charges, to be tried in New Jersey, relate to Menendez’ attempts to derail a Medicare fraud investigation into Melgen’s practice and securing visas for three Melgen “girlfriends.” The indictment also alleges that Menendez pushed a port security deal in the Dominican Republic that would have provided a windfall for Melgen. In return, the indictment alleges, Melgen provided Menendez with private jet ride rides, Dominican vacations, and donations to his legal defense fund.
The port security deal was exposed by NLPC through a front-page New York Times story on February 1, 2013. NLPC provided information to the Times on an exclusive basis, apparently prompting the federal criminal investigation.