USA prosecutors won't retry Menendez on corruption charges

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The dismissed charges related to Menendez's acceptance of campaign contributions from his friend, Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor.

According to the Justice Department, which filed charges against Menendez in 2015, the senator had accepted perks and gifts from the doctor valued at more than $1 million.

"From the very beginning, I never wavered in my innocence and my belief that justice would prevail".

Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Menendez with the firm of Norton Rose Fulbright, applauded the move, which followed a 15-minute conference this morning before U.S. District Judge William Walls.

The Justice Department has dropped all charges against New Jersey Sen.

Prosecutors had said they would retry Menendez and Melgen, but the judge's ruling changed that calculation. This action reversed a decision by prosecutors earlier this month to pursue a retrial of Menendez following the declaration of a hung-jury mistrial in November.

Mr. Menendez had claimed he was vindicated after the mistrial - even though he remained under indictment - and was quick to celebrate Wednesday's decision. "We take no pleasure in seeing justice done at this stage in a case that should never have been brought".

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Melgen was separately convicted of a Medicare fraud in Florida and is awaiting sentencing in that case in July.

After the mistrial, one juror said the panel had favored acquittal on most of the 18 counts by a 10-2 margin.

The charges tossed by the judge dealt with alleged political donations to Menendez by Melgen.

Now, Menendez will have some time to fix his standing among voters, while Republicans decide whether it's worth the trouble to find a viable challenger and launch an expensive effort to oust him in a bad year and a bad state for them.

"An early retrial date is in the best interests of the public, and the United States is available to schedule a retrial at the Court's earliest convenience", lawyers for the Government stated.

The senator was still accused of taking bribes in the form of private jet travel and a Paris vacation in exchange for pushing the doctor's business interests at the highest levels of the US government. Prosecutors lacked smoking-gun evidence and failed to prove a corrupt bargain between the senator and the doctor, he said. Menendez and Melgen, meanwhile, said the men had a long friendship, which explained their exchange of gifts.

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