New Jersey Senator Menendez indicted on federal corruption

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey is indicted on corruption charges.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (APRIL 1, 2015) (REUTERS) – U.S. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey was indicted on Wednesday (April 1) on corruption charges.

The New Jersey senator is charged with accepting gifts from a donor and friend, Florida-based opthalmologist Salomon Melgen, in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to benefit Melgen’s personal and financial interests. Melgen was also charged.

Sixty-one-year old Menendez, a senior member of Senate foreign policy, banking and finance committees, had said previously he had done nothing wrong and had no plans to leave his seat. He has described his relationship with Melgen as a close friendship.

Court documents show the 61-year-old was indicted in New Jersey along with Melgen on one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the travel act, seven counts of bribery and three counts of honest services fraud. The senator was also charged with one count of making false statements.

Menendez will hold a news conference at 7 p.m. (2300 GMT) in New Jersey.

For some time federal authorities have been investigating his relationship with Melgen, a Democratic donor accused of overbilling the government’s Medicare program.

Menendez, who is Cuban-American, is among the most senior Hispanic politicians in the country. He was re-elected to a second term in the Senate in 2012. He spent 13 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“As we have said before, we believe all of the senator’s actions have been appropriate and lawful, and the facts will ultimately confirm that,” Tricia Enright, Menendez’s communications director, said on March 6, responding to early reports that federal prosecutors were close to bringing charges against the senator.