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Staffer Used Menendez's Name to Lobby for Doctor: Official

What to Know

  • Sen. Menendez is accused of accepting bribes from Salomon Melgen in exchange for helping his friend with business disputes and with the visa
  • Menendez and Melgen have contended in court filings that the gifts were evidence of the pair's longtime friendship, not a corrupt agreement
  • Both men face multiple fraud and bribery charges; Menendez has pleaded not guilty and denies any wrongdoing

A former health administrator has testified a staffer to U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez used Menendez's name to lobby for a Florida eye doctor in a multimillion-dollar Medicare dispute.

The official testified Wednesday in the bribery trial of the New Jersey Democrat and the doctor, Salomon Melgen.

An indictment accuses Menendez of exchanging his political influence for gifts, including flights on Melgen's private jet and luxury hotel stays. The two longtime friends say there was no bribery arrangement.

The former administrator testified a Menendez staffer told him on the phone in 2009 that Melgen "was a personal friend of the senator" and that the staffer was "argumentative and persistent."

Defense attorneys contend Menendez got involved because Melgen's dispute demonstrated how Medicare reimbursement policies were inconsistently applied.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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