View Full Version : The bribery trial of US Sen. Robert "Pumpkinhead" Menendez (D-NJ) in Newark federal court

The Bobster
09-07-2017, 10:19 AM

Lawyer for Menendez's Co-Defendant Assails Case
Published 6 hours ago | Updated 17 minutes ago

An attorney for a wealthy doctor on trial with U.S. Sen. Bob "Pumpkinhead" Menendez has told jurors the government's corruption case is built on assumptions. :rolleyes:

Kirk Ogrosky made his opening statement Thursday morning. He says Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen and Menendez are longtime friends who spent time frequently at Melgen's homes in Florida and the Dominican Republic.

The government alleges trips paid for by Melgen, and campaign contributions he made to Menendez, were to get the New Jersey Democrat to use his influence to help Melgen's business interests.

Ogrosky told jurors Menendez often paid for his own flights to visit Melgen with family members. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Ogrosky also said Melgen didn't get any benefit from Menendez's alleged attempts to pressure government officials on his behalf. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

The Bobster
09-07-2017, 12:17 PM

Menendez prosecutor: ‘This is what bribery looks like’
By Kaja Whitehouse
September 6, 2017 | 8:32pm

NEWARK, N.J. — The corruption trial of Sen. Robert 'Pumpkinhead" Menendez opened Wednesday with a federal prosecutor’s blunt assessment, “This is what bribery looks like.”

“These two defendants corrupted one of the most powerful offices in our country. The defendants didn’t just trade money for power, they also tried to cover it up,’’ assistant U.S. attorney Peter Koski told jurors in Newark federal court.

Menendez is on trial for accepting all-expense-paid, luxury vacations, free private jet jaunts and more than $750,000 in campaign donations from his co-defendant Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy jew eye doctor from West Palm Beach who was recently convicted of Medicare fraud in Florida.

In exchange, Menendez used his influence to help Melgen with his personal and business affairs, including when allegations that the doctor ripped off Medicare to the tune of $8.9 million, Koski said.

“Senator Menendez went to bat for Dr. Melgen at the highest levels of the United States government because Melgen gave Menendez access to a lifestyle that read like a travel brochure for the rich and famous,” Koski said.

Both Menendez and Melgen have said their trips together were evidence only of their friendship. :rolleyes:

“There’s no friendship exception to bribery,’’ Koski said. “Make no mistake about it, Robert Menendez was Salomon Melgen’s personal United States Senator.”

Koski told the jury that Menendez was so confident Melgen would get him whatever he wanted that he once asked the doctor to book him a $1,500 a night room at a hotel in Paris by specifying that it must have a “limestone bath with soaking tub and .. views of courtyard or streets.”

Melgen used 650,000 American Express points to fulfill the request and Menendez promised to repay him with his own Amex points. But as soon as Menendez accumulated enough to start paying the doctor back, he used the points for something else, Koski said.

The senator also used his influence to help Melgen with a contract dispute in the Dominican Republic — and to help secure travel and student visas for three of Melgen’s foreign girlfriends, Koski said.

At least some of the girlfriends are expected to take the stand at the nearly two-month trial, according to Melgen’s lawyer, who complained that the government could “trot his girlfriends in front of you (the jury) just so you can see them.” :p

“He was not always the best husband,” lawyer Kirk Ogrosky told the jury by way of acknowledging the girlfriends.

Menendez, meanwhile, choked up and appeared on the verge of tears during a short speech before he entered the courthouse.

“Never — not once, not once — have I dishonored my public office,” Menendez said, flanked by his adult son and daughter. “I have always acted in accordance with the law. I believe when all of the facts are known I will be vindicated.”

In a show of support for his fellow Garden State Democrat, Sen. Cory Booker took a front row seat right behind Menendez as federal prosecutors told the jury about the senior senator’s years of alleged corruption.

Booker embraced Menendez in the courthouse’s hallway and then took off right after his defense lawyer finished opening remarks.

If Menendez is convicted he could be forced out of the Senate by a two-thirds majority vote, which would allow outgoing Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, to pick his successor. Currently, Republicans hold 52 Senate seats compared to 46 for the Democrats.

Defense lawyer Abbe Lowell told the jury that Menendez didn’t disclose the gifts he got from his doctor pal because the Senate’s financial disclosure rules are “confusing,” and because they were often for trips Menendez had been taking for years — before he was a senator. :rolleyes:

“A gift of personal hospitality doesn’t have to be listed,” Lowell told the jury. “You’ll hear that personal friendship was a defense,” he said.

Menendez, the first sitting U.S. senator to be tried in federal court for bribery since the 1980s, could miss some days of the trial for Senate votes.

Before openings, Menendez’s lawyer sparred with the judge for shooting down his request to recess the trial on days when the senator had “critical” votes in Washington.

In a written ruling, Judge William Walls surmised that Menendez made the request to “impress the jurors with the public importance of the defendant Senator and his duties.”

“I think the court has disparaged the defense,” lawyer Raymond Brown remarked on Wednesday, prompting the judge to tell Brown to “shut up for a moment,” while he explained himself.