Prosecutors in the federal corruption case against Senator Bob Menendez and his co-defendant, Salomon Melgen, rested their case on Wednesday, capping off 18 days of testimony from 35 witnesses.
Menendez pleaded not guilty to charges that he accepted campaign donations, lavish gifts and vacations from Melgen, a Florida-based eye doctor, in return for the senator using his influence to benefit Melgen both personally and financially.
According to The Hill, prosecutors are trying to prove the New Jersey senator is corrupt and, as they say, “sold his Senate office for a life of luxury he couldn’t afford.” The case also involves Salomon Melgen, a doctor who has similarly been accused of fraud and bribery. Both Mendez and Melgen have pleaded not guilty of the charges against them, claiming that no federal crime was committed.
“It’s a story of a lifetime of service done honorably, hard work and sacrifice and a commitment to the people of New Jersey and a longtime friendship with Dr. Melgen,” said Mendez, who also pointed out that he would resign should he be convicted. Mendez added that he was only thinking of reelection next year, as he expects to be exonerated.
The Justice Department case is based on allegations that Mendez accepted political contributions, among else, from Melgen and in exchange pressured other executive branch officials to help solve the doctor’s business problems.
Over the past week, the jury was presented with emails from 2102 which prove Melgen donated $60,000 to the New Jersey Senator’s defense fund the same day that by influencing other officials Mendez tried to resolve a dispute Melgen had in the Dominican Republic regarding a contract for screening cargo.
The defense team, on the other hand, made efforts to show that Mendez was nothing but concerned for the security of cargo entering U.S. ports and for preventing smuggling of drugs at these ports.