Ethics case closed: Menendez repays $112K to crooked doc
The U.S. Senate ethics committee has closed its case on U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez after the Democrat from New Jersey finished repaying more than $112,000 in gifts that he received from a now-convicted doctor in Florida.
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics on Feb. 1 wrote Menendez to acknowledge that it considered the matter closed. The letter was first published Tuesday by the New Jersey Globe political website.
The committee last year admonished the state's senior senator for repeatedly accepting gifts from Dr. Salomon Melgen, who was sentenced last year to 17 years in federal prison and ordered to repay the $73 million that he ripped off from Medicare.
Menendez was also tried on federal bribery charges in connection to the Melgen case but got off after a hung jury couldn't return a verdict last year and the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to try him again.
The corruption trials became fodder for attack ads but New Jersey re-elected Menendez in November with 54 percent of the vote.
In April, the ethics panel faulted Menendez for accepting gifts without obtaining approval from the committee while using his position to intervene on behalf of Melgen. The panel said Menendez tried to help Melgen when he ran into trouble for overbilling the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by $8.9 million, helped a port security company that Melgen owned and aided foreign nationals get U.S. visas to visit Melgen.
"Your actions reflected discredit upon the Senate," the committee said in its letter than "severely admonished" him.
The committee had asked Menendez to repay Melgen for flights and travel accommodations from 2007 and 2010.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.