New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez’s high-profile bribery case ended in a mistrial yesterday after a jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on the charges against him and his co-defendant, a Florida eye doctor.
The judge in the case made the decision Thursday after the jury told him Monday they could not reach a unanimous verdict on any of the 18 counts brought against Menendez, a Democrat, and his wealthy friend, Salomon Melgen, M.D., according to an Associated Press report.
Menendez and Melgen were charged with running a bribery scheme between 2006 and 2013, in which Menendez traded his political influence to help Melgen in exchange for luxury vacations, flights on the doctor’s private plane and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to organizations that supported the senator directly or indirectly.
Prosecutors did not immediately say whether they plan to retry the two, the AP said.
Melgen, an ophthalmologist who collected more money from Medicare than any other physician in the country in 2012, was found guilty in April of up to $105 million in Medicare fraud by performing unnecessary tests and treatments on mostly elderly and disabled patients. A federal jury found the doctor guilty on 67 counts, including healthcare fraud, submitting false claims and falsifying patient records, charges that could send him to prison for 15 to 20 years.
In this latest trial, both Menendez and Melgen faced about a dozen counts each, including bribery, conspiracy and honest services fraud.
Prosecutors said the doctor bribed the senator for favors, including intervention in an $8.9 million billing dispute with Medicare. The defense argued that the gifts were not bribes but tokens of friendship between two men who were "like brothers," the Associated Press reported.
Menendez is expected to run for reelection next year to the Senate.