Trump commuted sentence of Florida felon who had been accused of bribing Sen. Menendez

caricature, Trump and Menendez
Via Kathy E Gill and MidJourney

In 2021, as the clock ticked down on his last day as president of the United States, Donald J. Trump commuted the 17-year sentence of a Democrat-supporting Florida eye doctor convicted of Medicare fraud. One of the people urging clemency: Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

In 2017, a Florida jury had convicted Dr. Salomon Melgen of medical fraud fraud. In a six year period, Melgen “received more than $90 million from the Medicare program” for “unnecessary practices.” His sentence: 17 years in a Miami prison.

Earlier in 2017, a federal jury in New Jersey had failed to convict Melgen and Menendez on bribery and conspiracy.

That indictment charged Melgen with providing Menendez “close to $1 million worth of lavish gifts and campaign contributions” between January 2006 and January 2013. The quid pro quo : Menendez was to use “the power of his Senate office to influence the outcome of ongoing contractual and Medicare billing disputes worth tens of millions of dollars to Melgen and to support the visa applications of several of Melgen’s girlfriends.”

The Senate ethics committee had begun investigating Menendez for bribery in 2012 but deferred their efforts due to the DOJ investigation.

The White House credited Melgen’s clemency to support by both Menendez and US Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL).

Menendez has once again been charged with accepting bribes . The indictment states that investigators found more than “$480,000 in cash—-much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe.” Menendez’s wife, Nadine, had a safe deposit box containing more than $70,000 in cash.

Notably, “some of the envelopes contained the fingerprints and/or DNA” of co-defendent Fred Daibes or his driver

Agents also found home furnishings provided by [co-defendents Wael Hand and Daibes], the luxury vehicle paid for by [co-defendent Jose Uribe] parked in the garage, as well as over one hundred thousand dollars’ worth of gold bars in the home, which were provided by either Hana or Daibes.

In addition, the indictment claims Menendez accepted bribes to aid the government of Egypt , “ne of the largest recipients of U.S. military aid, including military equipment and grants of more than $1 billion a year.”

According to AP , “Daibes pleaded guilty last year to bank fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced in October. His plea deal calls for him to serve only probation in that case.”

Predictably, Trump took to Truth Social to comment. Marcy Wheeler reminded us of the clemency .


The DOJ on the 2017 Medicare fraud case :

Dr. Meglen, an ophthalmologist and retina specialist who had practiced in Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties with “Vitreo Retinal Consultants” and “The Melgen Retina Eye Center,” engaged in a scheme to defraud the Medicare program and other health care benefit programs, by, among other things, falsely diagnosing Medicare patients with macular degeneration and then performing and billing for medically unnecessary tests and procedures. As a result of these unnecessary practices the defendant received more than $90 million from the Medicare program, alone, during the six year period between January 2008 through December 2013. Melgen’s medical practice was closed following his arrest in April 2015.

The sordid second season of the Robert Menendez bribery series

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Menendez indicted for corruption

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New York (AFP) – Federal prosecutors charged US Senator Robert Menendez on Friday with bribery and extortion, saying gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash had been found at the high-ranking Democrat’s home. In one of several allegations, the Justice Department said Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had provided sensitive information to the Egyptian government in order to help an Egyptian-American businessman protect his monopoly. It is the second corruption indictment in eight years against the veteran New Jersey politician, 69, and may place into qu…

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Israeli airstrikes target Gaza amid ongoing protests, no casualties reported

Israeli airstrikes hit several targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the country’s military said, after Palestinian protesters flocked for the 12th straight day to the enclave’s frontier with Israel — demonstrations that have devolved into violent clashes with Israeli security forces.

There were no reports of casualties in Gaza from the Israeli airstrikes.

The Israeli army said that it used a drone, helicopter and tank to strike multiple posts in northern and southern Gaza belonging to the strip’s militant Hamas rulers in response to what it described as “violent riots” at the separation fence between Gaza and Israel. The protests involve Palestinians throwing stones and explosive devices, burning tires and, according to the Israeli military, shooting at Israeli soldiers.

Palestinian health officials reported that Israeli forces shot and wounded 11 protesters during Tuesday’s rally.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that seized control of Gaza in 2007, has said that young Palestinians have organized the protests in response to surging violence in the West Bank and alleged provocations in Jerusalem . In recent days Palestinians have also floated incendiary kites and balloons across the border into southern Israel, setting fire to farmland and unnerving Israeli civilian communities close to Gaza.

The unrest first erupted earlier this month, shortly after Hamas’ Finance Ministry announced it was slashing the salaries of civil servants by more than half, deepening a financial crisis in the enclave that has staggered under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade for the past 16 years.

Under arrangements stemming from past cease-fire understandings with Israel, the gas-rich emirate of Qatar pays the salaries of civil servants in the Gaza Strip, provides direct cash transfers to poor families and offers other kinds of humanitarian aid. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday that it had begun the distribution of $100 cash transfers to some 100,000 needy families in the impoverished territory.

The sudden violence at the separation fence has stoked fears of a wider escalation between Israel and Hamas, which have fought four wars and engaged in numerous smaller battles since Hamas took over the territory.

But experts said that the violent protests — which have persisted with Hamas’ tacit consent for nearly two weeks now — have more to do with Hamas’ efforts to manage the territory and halt its spiraling economic crisis than draw Israel into a new round of conflict.

“It’s a tactical way of generating attention about their distress,” Ibrahim Dalalsha, director of the Horizon Center, a Palestinian research group based in the West Bank, said of Hamas. “It’s not an escalation but ‘warming up’ to put pressure on relevant parties that can come up with money to give to the Hamas government.”

Israel, he added, also seeks to contain the exchanges with its precise strikes on apparently abandoned militant outposts — so far avoiding a mishap that could spiral into a conflict that neither side wants.

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