"The defendants' bribery scheme began shortly after Menendez's elevation to the Senate in 2006, when Melgen began a pattern of treating Menendez to weekend and weeklong getaways in the Dominican Republic that would continue for the next several years", prosecutors said in a recent court filing, according to Politico.
Menendez is up for re-election next year.
The New Jersey lawmaker proclaimed his innocence outside of the courthouse Wednesday.
The trial of Sen. "These two men refer to each other as brothers", Lowell said of Menendez and Melgen, who often traveled together, sometimes with their families.
"Sen. Menendez believed that every action he took...was proper on the facts he heard, on the law and policy that was involved", Lowell said, adding that these actions "were recommended to him by experienced staff, including lawyers". A Democrat has a large polling and financial advantage in November's election to replace Christie.
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In pre-trial proceedings, Menendez's team fought hard for the court to accommodate his schedule, even requesting that the court delay proceedings until October to accommodate the start of the Senate session Tuesday - the day before the trial is due to commence. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, on corruption charges - a ruling which was later overturned after a Justice Department investigation - the ad contends that "Democrats and Republicans used to agree that a convicted felon should resign immediately". Booker was in court on Wednesday to support him.
In exchange for Melgen's largesse, prosecutors say, Menendez did him favors: helping obtain visas for the doctor's foreign girlfriends, pressuring an assistant secretary of state to protect Melgen's port security contract in the Dominican Republic, and lobbying fellow senators and the highest-ranking health policy officials in the Obama administration to try to sway a Medicare billing dispute in the doctor's favor.
"For years, Dr. Melgen knowingly made false diagnoses and submitted fraudulent bills in order to illegally line his pockets with millions of dollars intended for the legitimate diagnosis and treatment of Medicare patients", stated Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg.
Federal prosecutors say U.S. Sen.
Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday in Newark, New Jersey, and the trial is expected to last up to two months. When attorney Abbe Lowell pointed out that the motion was filed according to the judge's order from December, Walls replied, "Fine". Walls continually interrupted to deny the allegation. Gov. Chris Christie, the New Jersey Republican governor, would have the power to appoint a new senator, between now and January 2018 when Christie's term ends.