Judge Declares Mistrial in Corruption Trial of Melgen, Menendez

November 17, 2017: By Joan McKenna

A federal judge declared a mistrial Nov. 16 in a federal corruption trial of Florida retina specialist Salomon Melgen and US Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, after jurors were unable to reach a verdict. Prosecutors can seek to retry the case.

The trial, overseen by US District Judge William Walls in New Jersey, began Sept. 6. It examined whether Menendez lobbied for Melgen’s business interests in exchange for gifts and political donations.

Defense attorneys built a portrait of their clients as simply friends. Prosecutors alleged that the defendants’ behavior amounted to bribery.

The Justice Department claimed that Menendez intervened to help Melgen try to resolve his $8.9 million billing dispute with Medicare in 2009, after Melgen was accused of overbilling for Lucentis vials. Menendez in return received luxury trips, flights on private jets, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations, prosecutors claim.

The judge repeatedly urged jurors to continue deliberating, telling them to “take as much time as you need.”
In a separate trial earlier in 2017, Melgen, 62, was convicted of 67 counts of Medicare fraud. His sentencing hearing was pushed back to December due to the New Jersey trial. Melgen operated the now closed Vitreo-Retinal Consultants of the Palm Beaches.

In that trial, Melgen was accused of falsely diagnosing patients with macular degeneration and other retinal disorders, performing unnecessary procedures, and overcharging for Lucentis by splitting single-use bottles into multiple doses but charging Medicare per patient.

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