The Florida eye doctor tied to embattled Sen. Robert Menendez’s hung corruption trial could face up to 30 years in prison.
Salomon Melgen, a longtime friend of the New Jersey Democrat, was convicted last April of 67 crimes including health care fraud, submitting false claims and falsifying records while he snatched more than $100 million from the Medicare system as part of a massive fraud scheme.
Melgen was the highest-paid Medicare provider in the entire country for five consecutive years.
U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra could give Melgen, 63, a life sentence, though prosecutors are asking for 30 years. Melgen’s defense team wants no more than a decade behind bars for their client.
Melgen allegedly convinced older patients to undergo tests and treatments they did not need for conditions they did not have in order to rack up Medicare billings.
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In December, Menendez indicated he still communicates closely with Melgen and his family.
“Listen I spent a lot of time with him and his family during the course of our trial. I spent a lot of time with his wife and daughter,” Menendez said. “I still have the greatest affection for them and I wish him well. ... He believes that he was, at the end of the day, wrongfully prosecuted.”
The Garden State lawmaker, whose bribery trial was declared a mistrial in November, is not out of legal trouble just yet as prosecutors decide whether or not to retry his case. Menendez told reporters in December he wants investigators to decide by mid-January whether they will try him in court again.
In Menendez’s case, prosecutors have alleged that more than $700,000 in campaign contributions, and other gifts such as vacations and flights on Melgen’s private jet, were part of a scheme to get the senator to provide inappropriate favors and assistance to Melgen, including help with the Department of Health and Human Services over Medicare billing issues.