The Justice Department announced Friday that they are planning to retry the federal corruption case against New Jersey Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez.
The original case against Menendez and co-defendant Salmon Melgen ended in a mistrial in November.
“The United States files this notice of intent to retry the defendants and requests that the Court set the case for retrial at the earliest possible date,” the notice signed by AnnaLou Tirol, the acting chief of the department’s public integrity section, read, according to Politico.
“Defendants Robert Menendez and Salomon Melgen have been indicted for bribery and corruption by two separate grand juries properly impaneled in the District of New Jersey. The first trial ended in a mistrial with a deadlocked jury. 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.”
New Jersey’s senior senator plans to run for reelection this year, and his office issued a statement on the news.
“We regret that the DOJ, after spending millions and millions of taxpayer dollars, and failing to prove a single allegation in a court of law, has decided to double down on an unjust prosecution. Evidently, they did not hear the overwhelming voices of the New Jerseyans who served on the jury this fall. Senator Menendez fully intends to be vindicated — again.”
Melgan’s attorney, Kirk Ogrosky, said he was “very disappointed” in the news that the DOJ has called for a retrial.
“Anyone who watched the testimony, reviewed the exhibits, and spoke to the jurors and the alternates in the first trial knows that this prosecution was ridiculous and should never have been brought,” he said.
Over 100 witnesses and thousands of documents were included in the first trial, according to Politico.
Mendendez faced an 18-count indictment including six counts of bribery, three counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy, one count of interstate travel to carry out bribery and one count of making false statements on a congressional financial disclosure to conceal the crimes.
The most serious, making false statements to conceal the crimes, carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, according to The Record.
“Menendez, 63, accepted an abundance of campaign donations, gifts and vacations from Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist. In return, Menendez used his position to lobby on behalf of Melgen’s business interests, according to prosecutors,” Fox News reported.
Melgen allegedly directed more than $750,000 in campaign contributions to Menendez, who is currently serving in his second term in Senate.
Menedenz had a strong message for any Democrat who is seeking to take his Senate seat:
“To those who were digging my political grave so they could jump into my seat, I know who you are and I won’t forget you.”
Although the DOJ has called for a retrial, it is not a certainty that it will be administered.
“The conduct alleged in the indictment is serious and warrants retrial before a jury of citizens in the District of New Jersey,” DOJ spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said in a statement. “The decision to retry this case was made based on the facts and the law, following a careful review. The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”
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