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Source: Justice Dept. Prepares To Charge N.J. Sen. Menendez With Corruption

The Justice Department is planning to bring corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., alleging that he did political favors for a friend and donor, NPR has confirmed.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP
The Justice Department is planning to bring corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., alleging that he did political favors for a friend and donor, NPR has confirmed.

Updated at 2:54 p.m. ET

The Justice Department is planning to bring corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., alleging that he did political favors for a friend and donor, NPR's Carrie Johnson has confirmed.

A person familiar with case tells Carrie that a decision has been made to go forward with a prosecution.

"It is not clear how long it will take for actual criminal charges to emerge," Carrie tells us.

The case is being handled by the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington, she says.

News of the planned charges were first reported by CNN.

There was no immediate comment from Menendez or his friend, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.

Menendez, who has emerged as a recent critic of the Obama administration policy on Iran and Cuba, came under scrutiny two years ago. As NPR's Peter Overby reported at the time, "Melgen ... has been a longtime and generous supporter. [In 2012], his medical practice gave $700,000 to a Democratic superPAC, which spent nearly $600,000 to help Menendez in the November election."

As Peter noted in his reporting, Menendez pressed two State Department officials during a hearing about an American company that was providing port security in the Dominican Republic. But, Menendez said during the hearing, local officials "don't want to live by that contract." And the senator said the U.S. needed to side with the company, ICSSI, not the Dominican government.

What he didn't say was that that ICSSI was partially owned by Melgen.

And, Peter reported, twice in 2009 "Menendez went to Medicare on Melgen's behalf after health care officials alleged the doctor had overbilled by nearly $9 million. ... Menendez has also admitted that he failed to disclose two trips on Melgen's private jet — flights to a Dominican Republic resort community where Melgen has a house."

Menendez later reimbursed Meglen for the flights.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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