United States Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) has been indicted on federal corruption charges, federal authorities have announced, including eight counts of bribery. He denied any wrongdoing and insisted that he is not going anywhere.
Following news of the
indictment, Senate aides told Reuters that Menendez will
temoporarily step down as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign
Relations Panel. He is set to appear in court in Newark on
A spokesperson for the
US Department of Justice said that Menendez, 61, and a Florida
medical professional, Dr. Salomon Melgen, are both named in an
indictment unsealed on Wednesday this week “in connection
with a bribery scheme in which Menendez allegedly accepted gifts
from Melgen in exchange for using the power of his Senate office
to benefit Melgen’s financial and personal
The two were each indicted on one count of violating the travel
act, eight counts of bribery and three counts of honest services
fraud. Additionally, Menendez was also charged with one count of
making false statements, according to Peter Carr, the Justice
Speaking to reporters, Menendez was defiant in the face of the
“I’m outraged that prosecutors at the Justice Department were
tricked into starting this investigation three years ago” by
people with “a political motive to silence me.”
“But I will not be silenced,” he said. “I’m
confident, at the end of the day, I will be vindicated and they
will be exposed.”
The senator accused prosecutors of not knowing the difference
between friendship and corruption, adding that they
“twisted” his relationship with Melgen into something
“I have always conducted myself with accordance with the
law,” he said, asking people to withhold judgement and
remember that prosecutors can get things wrong.
Although Menendez described his address as a press conference, he
did not take questions from reporters.
An indictment unsealed in US District Court for the District of
New Jersey alleges that Menendez provided free flights to his
guests on private jets owned by Melgen’s company, Melissa
Aviation, between 2003 and 2011.
In addition to accepting free flights, Menendez allegedly
accepted luxury stays in Paris, a villa in the Caribbean and
access to an exclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. He is
also charged with taking expensive meals, golf outings, and
hundreds of thousands of dollars towards his 2012 re-election
Additionally, Menendez purposely declined to report these gifts
in his Financial Disclosures Report, which are mandated by the
Ehthics in Government Act.
“Menendez used the prestige, authority and influence of his
status” as a Senator to promote Melgen’s personal and
business interests with an American ambassador and government
officials, according to the indictment, including cabinet
officials within the administration of President Barack Obama.
The indictment alleges that the senator used his power in office
to assist Melgen and his associates in return.
For example, it states that Melgen’s foreign girlfriends were
able secure visas due to the unfluence Menendez was able to exert
over the proceedings. He also allegedly kept US Customs and
Border Protection from sending screening and surveillance
equipment to ports in the Dominican Republic, a move that would
have otherwise posed a threat to Melgen’s exclusive cargo