MENENDEZ TRIAL: Defense Argues Friendship, Not Corruption

NEWARK – The defense for Sen. Bob Menendez and Dr. Salomon Melgen worked to bring the duo’s friendship to the fore during this morning’s cross-examination of an FBI special agent who worked the corruption case.


Menendez lawyer Abbe Lowell brought up a comped resort suite, a private jet flight paid for by a campaign committee and another flight he described as a “political event.” All these, he said, are evidence Menendez and Melgen’s relationship “is not based on a corrupt agreement, it’s based on friendship.”


Lowell also pointed out Menendez’s $58,500 reimbursement for three flights made in January 2013 was so high because he paid the cost of everyone who had taken the flight on Melgen’s private jet.


“In other words, when he pays $18,000 for a flight of 10 people, he’s paying for himself and nine people,” Lowell said.


Mohl countered that was because, unless there was another member of Congress on board the flight, Menendez was the only one who was required to make the reimbursement. 


The trial’s fourth week opened with more of the same: from Alan Mohl, the FBI agent, to the defense chipping away at the bribery charges with examples of friendship, to Lowell pointing out his client took 28 trips to and from the Dominican Republic from 1998 to 2013.


Also as in past weeks, a high-profile Democratic elected official joined the Menendez family on the left side of the courtroom. Newark Councilman and former acting mayor Luis Quintana sat through most of the morning cross-examination.

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