World March 7, 2015 | 10:00 am

The New York Times: Menendez to face corruption charges

New York.– The JusticeDepartment is preparing to file corruption charges against Senator RobertMenendez, 61, after atwo-year investigation into allegations that he accepted gifts and lavishvacations in exchange for political favors for a longtime friend and politicalbenefactor.

According to The New York Times, a law enforcementofficial said on Friday that the charges would be filed within a month against Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, who rose from a childhood in thetenements to become the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee andis now the highest-ranking Latino Democrat in Congress.

With the senatoraggressively raising money for a legal-defense fund for more than a year now,charges against him had long been anticipated. But even in New Jersey, a statewith a long history of political corruption, the case is jarring.

It revolves aroundthe friendship between the senator and Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Florida eyesurgeon, the paper recalls. The two spent holidays together at Dr. Melgen’s home in the DominicanRepublic, a gated oceanfront resort where the neighbors included Oscar de laRenta. Dr. Melgen eventually delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars tobenefit Mr. Menendez and the national Democratic Party.

Menendezaccepted two round-trip flights aboard Dr. Melgen’s private jet for personalvacations in the Dominican Republic in 2010, but failed to report them as giftsor to reimburse Dr. Melgen at the time, as required under Senate disclosurerules.

The New York Times published today that according to courtpapers that were mistakenly and briefly unsealed last week, prosecutors havebeen examining whether Menendez improperly tried to persuade Medicareofficials in recent years to change reimbursement policies in a way that wouldmake millions of dollars for Dr. Melgen, one of the country’s biggestrecipients of Medicare funds.

Menendez has acknowledged urging the Centersfor Medicare and Medicaid Services to change its reimbursement policy, but saidhe did so because he considered the policy unfair.

The paper reveals that on Friday night, ata Hilton hotel ballroom in Newark, Menendez denied he had done anythingwrong, and vowed to persevere. "Let me be very,very clear," he told about a dozen reporters. "I have always conducted myselfappropriately and in accordance with the law." And added: "Anyonewho knows me knows who I am and that I am not going anywhere."

The impact of thecorruption case could be significant in New Jersey and involves one of thestate’s most formidable, if aloof, figures, The New York Times pointed out.

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