01 February, 2018
Federal prosecutors filed a motion on Wednesday to drop their bribery case against New Jersey Sen.
The Justice Department said it abandoned the case after U.S. District Judge William Walls ruled last week that the trial evidence and testimony persuaded him that Menendez was not guilty on four criminal counts. Dr. Melgen is now and has always been innocent of the charges brought in New Jersey.
Mr. Menendez's top political advisor Michael Soliman said the Democrat from Hudson County will "absolutely" run again in November.
Jurors later told reporters as many as 10 members of the panel were in favour of acquittal on all counts, leading many to speculate the government wouldn't pursue a retrial.
However, the judge's decision on January 24 to drop seven of the 18 charges against the 63-year-old politician due to insufficient evidence led USA authorities to rethink their stance. Walls left in place other bribery and fraud charges but bowed out of the case.
"Any time you have a political corruption case that doesn't include a cooperating witness, you've got a hard case to prove", Mintz said.
"Despite the five years of this ordeal, Senator Menendez never wavered in his innocence and his commitment to the people of New Jersey", Lowell said in a statement.
Walls wrote in the 53-page opinion that prosecutors had failed to meet their legal standard to prove quid pro quo related to the charges.
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The move to dismiss charges is a complete reversal by the Justice Department.
Federal prosecutors decided Wednesday not to retry Sen.
Lawyers for Menendez and Melgen did not object to the change of heart by the Justice Department.
"An early retrial date is in the best interests of the public, and the United States is available to schedule a retrial at the Court's earliest convenience", lawyers for the Government stated.
Sebelius testified past 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.
Menendez, 64, was charged with trading his political influence for gifts and campaign donations from Melgen, 63.
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.