According to at least one published report, President Trump is being urged to pardon, or commute the prison sentence of, Dr. Salomon Melgen, currently serving 17 years for Medicare fraud and related crimes.
Letting Melgen off the hook would be a horrible abuse of the pardon and commutation powers invested in the president by the Constitution, arguably worse than Bill Clinton’s pardon of fugitive Marc Rich.
From a Daily Caller op-ed I wrote in 2018:
According to testimony at his trial and allegations in civil lawsuits, Melgen performed unnecessary surgeries and injections on unsuspecting elderly people, including some with fake eyes or who were already blind. Others claimed they suffered eye infections after receiving injections of bacteria-laden medicine. Some lost sight in one or both eyes. The contamination stemmed from Melgen dividing up single-use vials of ocular drugs so he could bill Medicare multiple times.
Melgen’s conviction and sentence was upheld by the court of appeals earlier this year and a rehearing petition denied in November.
Melgen was Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) largest political donor and co-defendant when Menendez was tried on bribery and related charges in 2017. That trial resulted in a mistrial because of a hung jury. Under circumstances that have yet to be explained, the Justice Department chose not to retry the duo.
Among the allegations, the prosecution accused Menendez of pressuring U.S. officials to get the Dominican Republic government to honor a long-dormant port security deal with a company owned by Melgen.
The port security deal was uncovered by NLPC’s Tom Anderson, and was the subject of a front-page New York Times story on February 1, 2013. NLPC provided information to the Times on an exclusive basis.
From the same op-ed:
In April 2017, Melgen was found guilty of defrauding Medicare out of tens of millions in a trial in Florida. A few months later, Menendez and Melgen stood trial together in New Jersey on bribery charges. The crimes alleged at the Florida and New Jersey trials were intertwined.
Melgen wouldn’t have been able to shower favors on Menendez, give him jet rides, or kick in $700,000 to a super PAC that spent most of the money on his 2012 re-election if he wasn’t getting gobs of money from somewhere. The scale of Melgen’s fraud was such that for a time he was actually the largest recipient of Medicare reimbursements in the whole country.
Aside from the Justice Department decision not to seek a retrial, the biggest mystery of the bribery prosecution was that the Justice Department never flipped Melgen to testify against Menendez. The Doctor seemed to be a prime candidate to become a prosecution witness, already facing significant prison time for the Medicare fraud.
Could it be that the same forces that dissuaded the Justice Department from retrying Menendez and Melgen are now hard at work, seeking to spring Melgen before President Trump leaves office?