NEW YORK – The US Department of Justice refused on Wednesday to seek a new trial on corruption charges for Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez after the judge last week dismissed some of the charges against him.
In a written statement, the government on Wednesday asked US District Court Judge Jose Linares to drop the rest of the charges and dismiss the indictment against the senator in a federal court in New Jersey.
The Justice Department earlier this year had sought a second trial for Menendez after the first one ended in a hung jury
However, the judge’s decision on Jan. 24 to drop seven of the 18 charges against the 63-year-old politician due to insufficient evidence led US authorities to rethink their stance.
Menendez, who is of Cuban origin and one of the Democratic Party’s most influential lawmakers, had been accused of accepting bribes, fraud and criminal conspiracy.
The accusations were linked to his relationship with Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, whom he had allegedly helped using his Senate influence, in exchange for gifts and significant contributions to his election campaigns.
According to the Justice Department, which filed charges against Menendez in 2015, the senator had accepted perks and gifts from the doctor valued at more than $1 million.
Menendez, in turn, allegedly tried to help Melgen get US visas for his girlfriends, brought his influence to bear in an $8.9 million billing dispute with Medicare and helped out with a port security contract in the Dominican Republic.
According to the government, Menendez enjoyed luxury vacations paid for by the doctor, accepted private jet flights and other gifts, although both men have said that these were simply signs of their longstanding friendship.
The decision comes as Menendez is seeking re-election in 2018, with federal primaries in June and the election in November. Three Republicans are vying to oust the Democrat from his seat.