World April 1, 2015 | 5:48 pm

US indicts Dominican Republic eye doctor, NJ Sen.

Santo Domingo.- US senator Robert (Bob) Menendez and longtime donor and Dominican ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, who was at the center of a scandal over X-ray machines for the country’s ports, were indicted Wed. by the Department of Justice.

According to the court filing, Menendez was indicted by a grand jury in New Jersey for accepting gifts from Melgen in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to benefit Melgen’s financial and personal interests,

Both men, 61, were charged with one count ofconspiracy, one count of violating travel rules, eight counts of bribery andthree counts of fraud. Menendez was also charged with one count of making falsestatements.

Menendez accepted up to US$1 million worth of lavish giftsand campaign contributions from Melgen in exchange for using the power of hisSenate office to influence the outcome of Medicare billing disputes worth tensof millions of dollars to Melgen, the Justice Department said.

The indictment said Melgen improperly gave Menendez flightson private jets, vacations at his villa in Casa de Campo, a stay at a luxuryhotel in Paris and tens of thousands of dollars to a legal defense fund.Between 2007 and 2012, Menendez never disclosed any of the reportable giftsthat he received from Melgen and withheld the information from his Senatestaff, the indictment said.

Experts consider that the allegations against Menendez raisethe possibility of Republicans gaining a 55th Senate seat to strengthen theirhand in policy fights with Democratic President Barack Obama, should thesenator decide to resign his seat.

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