Saturday, September 16, 2017

Menendez Helped Co-Defendant on Visas, Ex-Aide Testifies

A former staffer for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez testified Monday that the New Jersey Democrat was involved in helping with the visa applications of friends of a wealthy doctor who is on trial with him.

Under direct questioning from the government, former senior policy adviser Mark Lopes testified that Menendez emailed him in 2008 authorizing a letter of support from Menendez to be sent to consular officials regarding the visa applications of two sisters from the Dominican Republic.
Senator Menendez

One of the emails sent around the time had a subject line that read: "Dr. Melgen's request."

When the applications were denied despite Menendez's signed letter, Lopes testified, Menendez instructed him to reach out to the U.S. ambassador.

The sisters were friends of Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, a longtime friend of Menendez's. The two men were indicted in 2015 and face multiple fraud and bribery charges. Prosecutors said they orchestrated a scheme in which Melgen gave Menendez gifts and campaign donations in exchange for Menendez's political influence.

The indictment alleges that, in addition to the visas, Menendez lobbied government officials on behalf of Melgen in a Medicare billing dispute and a contract dispute involving a company Melgen owned that sought to provide port security equipment in the Dominican Republic.

Menendez and Melgen have contended in court filings, and their attorneys alleged in their opening statements last week, that the gifts flowed in both directions and were evidence of the pair's longtime friendship and mutual affection, not a corrupt agreement.
Dr. Melgen

Earlier Monday, a vice president for American Express testified Melgen used about 650,000 AmEx points to pay for a Paris hotel room for Menendez in 2010.

The case could threaten Menendez's political career and potentially alter the makeup of a deeply divided U.S. Senate if he's convicted.

If he is expelled or steps down before Republican Gov. Chris Christie leaves office Jan. 16, Christie would pick Menendez's successor. A Democrat has a large polling and financial advantage in November's election to replace Christie.

The most serious charge Menendez and Melgen each face, honest services fraud, carries a maximum 20-year sentence.

Ed.  The article you just read appeared on on September 11th. It was prepared by the Associated Press. How much deference did the AP writer show Senator Menendez in this “report” on the liberal Democrat’s legal troubles? Well, the AP wrote of “gifts” given Menendez by Dr. Salomon Melgen. But the author failed to mention that those gifts totaled at least $700,000! The AP writer also revealed that “Menendez lobbied government officials on behalf of Melgen in a Medicare billing dispute.” Well Melgen’s role in that little “billing dispute” was settled by jurors back in April as the good doctor was found guilty of stealing “up to $105 million from the federal medical insurance program between 2008 and 2013 by performing unneeded tests and treatments on mostly elderly and disabled patients.”

Of course, early this month, NBC and the AP tweeted a story that Menedez is a Republican senator, while a New York Times article soft-peddling the trial failed to attribute any political party affiliation to the New Jersey defendant.

The Coach’s Team will continue to publish information on the Menendez trial, even though the national media doesn’t consider it terribly newsworthy. 

Ed.  Please help Candidate Roy Moore defeat Mitch McConnell’s GOPe yes-man Luther Strange in the Alabama run-off election on September 26th.  Roy Moore is a strongly religious, pro-life conservative. Help him defeat Mitch McConnell’s choice by donating to Moore at this link.

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