Published: Thu, February 01, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Justice Department seeks to toss out charges against Sen. Menendez

Justice Department seeks to toss out charges against Sen. Menendez

In a big personal victory for Senator Robert Menendez - and, indirectly, for Democratic hopes of a successful 2018 midterm election - the Department of Justice has formally filed a court motion to drop its corruption case against the embattled New Jersey lawmaker. Bob Menendez on corruption charges that ended in a hung jury last fall, lifting the legal cloud hanging over the New Jersey Democrat as he gears up for re-election this year.

The jury deadlocked in November, prompting the presiding judge to declare a mistrial after Menendez spent years fighting the charges.

Prosecutors accused Menendez of trading political favors from 2006 through early 2013 after Melgen plied him with rides on his private jet, rooms at luxury hotels, a stay at Melgen's posh villa in the Dominican Republic, and almost $750,000 in campaign contributions.

"Given the impact of the Court's January 24 order on the charges and the evidence admissible in a retrial, the United States has determined that it will not retry the defendants on the remaining charges", DOJ spokeswoman Nicole Navas Oxman said.

This story is breaking and will be updated. Such requests from prosecutors to drop charges are nearly always granted.

"Menendez never wavered in his innocence and his commitment to the people of New Jersey", said a statement by attorney Abbe Lowell.

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The Justice Department moved Wednesday to cancel its corruption case against Sen. "In the end, the judge's decision to dismiss the bribery charges involving political contributions left prosecutors with an even more hard case and less evidence with which to prove it".

Lawyers for Menendez and Melgen did not object to the change of heart by the Justice Department.

Menendez has long maintained that the government's charges are an attempt to criminalize a longtime friendship between the two men, and that there was nothing corrupt about his acts on Melgen's behalf or Melgen's financial support of the senator. Melgen faces sentencing for a separate fraud conviction in Florida.

Sebelius testified previous year during the trial that it was unusual for her to be involved in a billing dispute, and another staffer testified that Menendez had become angry during the meeting when the matter was not resolved.

"The notion to have two extraordinary senators in this state unencumbered, 1,000 percent focused on pushing forth the interests of the 9 million folks who call New Jersey home, is a new and great day", Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said at an unrelated event in Atlantic City on Wednesday.

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