Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, was indicted on Wednesday (April 1) on 14 charges of using his legislative office to benefit an eye doctor in exchange for gifts, The Washington Post reported.
After an investigation lasting more than two years, The Post says, Menendez was charged for what prosecutors say were improper efforts to help Salomon Melgen, a Florida-based doctor and his longtime friend, who was a contributor to Menendez’s political campaigns.
Menendez intervened on Melgen’s behalf in a dispute with federal regulators over Medicare charges and in a bid by Melgen to secure a port security contract in the Dominican Republic, the newspaper says.
As a member of the Finance Committee, Menendez encouraged the Obama administration to change the Medicare reimbursement policy in a way that would make millions for Dr. Melgen.
Menendez has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, contending that whatever gifts he received from Melgen were expressions of his friendship, which goes back to the 1990s.
A grand jury in New Jersey also filed eight charges of bribery against Melgen and Menendez and three charges of “honest service fraud,” according to the U.S. Justice Department.
The bribery charges carry up to 15 years in prison on each charge. Menendez is 61 years old.
The two men also received one count each for conspiracy and one count each for violating the Travel Act. Menendez was also charged with making false statements.
The senator scheduled a news conference for 7 p.m. today (April 1) in Newark, The Post reported.