After a federal judge declared a mistrial in Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption and bribery trial in November, the Department of Justice announced it would retry the New Jersey Democrat.
Menendez has been accused of accepting a plethora of donations and gifts from a wealthy friend in exchange for political influence. Both Menendez and the doctor, Salomon Melgen, maintained their innocence.
The Justice Department announced on Jan. 19 its intention to retry Menendez and Melgen.
“The conduct alleged in the indictment is serious and warrants retrial before a jury of citizens in the District of New Jersey,” said the Justice Department. “The decision to retry this case was made based on the facts and the law, following a careful review.”
Menendez’s office said in a statement Friday that he “fully intends to be vindicated – again.”
“We regret that the DOJ, after spending millions and millions of taxpayer dollars, and failing to prove a single allegation in a court of law, has decided to double down on an unjust prosecution,” his office said.
Menendez is up for re-election next year. He was selected to replace former Gov. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., in the Senate in 2005.
Read on for a look at what Menendez was accused of and what happened in the first trial.
What was Menendez accused of?
Menendez, 64, accepted an abundance of campaign donations, gifts and vacations from Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, prosecutors alleged when Menendez faced trial in 2017. In return, prosecutors claimed, he used his position to lobby on behalf of Melgen’s business interests.
Melgen allegedly directed more than $750,000 in campaign contributions to entities that supported Menendez, according to the indictment, which prosecutors said were inducements to get Menendez to use his influence on Melgen’s behalf. Prosecutors have also accused Menendez of trying to hide the gifts.
Melgen paid for Menendez and his girlfriend to stay for three nights at a Parisian hotel where rooms typically cost about $1,500 per night and allowed the senator the use of his private jet, according to prosecutors.
Federal prosecutors said that Menendez “sold his office for a lifestyle that he couldn’t afford.”
The indictment also alleged that Menendez pressured State Department officials to give visas to three young women described as Melgen’s girlfriends.
What was the senator’s defense?
Both Menendez and Melgen pleaded not guilty – and Menendez has vehemently denied the accusations against him.
Throughout the original trial, defense attorneys sought to prove that Menendez and Melgen have been friends since before the former became a senator, and the trips were nothing more than friends traveling together.
Is there anything else to know about Salomon Melgen?
Melgen was convicted of 67 counts of health care fraud in April 2017 in what the Palm Beach Post called one of the biggest Medicare fraud cases in the U.S.
During that case, prosecutors argued that Melgen, who was born in the Dominican Republic, robbed Medicare of as much as $105 million, according to the newspaper.
Aside from Menendez, Melgen has given significant amounts of money to a variety of Democratic lawmakers, according to public records.
How did the trial end?
After the jury again informed the judge they could not reach a decision, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls declared a mistrial, saying he found “no alternative.”
The mistrial was declared on Nov. 16.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Tara Prindiville and The Associated Press contributed to this report.