Dr. Salomon Melgen, the Florida opthalmologist and high flying Democratic contributor indicted on public corruption charges along with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on April 1, remains in custody in a Florida jail on separate Medicare fraud charges. On Monday his attorneys asked a federal judge to try him on the Medicare fraud charges first.
“The defense told Judge Kenneth Marra they’d prefer to try the Florida case before the New Jersey case,” the Associated Press and CBS Miami reported on Monday.
Melgen plead not guilty to the public corruption charges in a New Jersey court on April 2 and was freed on bail.
As NJ.com reported at the time:
Bail for Melgen was set at $1.5 million, with a requirement of 10 percent in cash and the balance in property. Melgen, a native of the Dominican Republic, also was ordered to surrender his Dominican and U.S. passports. His private jets are to remain grounded. He has lived in the United States since 1979.
His lawyer, Maria Dominguez, said her client would comply with the court’s conditions.
“He has not gone anywhere,” Dominguez said. “He’s not going anywhere.”
While the case plays out, Melgen has agreed to move into an apartment in West Palm Beach, Fla., because his son collects firearms and keeps them at the house they share, Dominguez said. Melgen will not be allowed to possess firearms while he’s out on bail.
He also will be subject to drug testing. Dominguez said Melgen suffers from attention deficit disorder and takes sleep medication.
The public corruption charges were set for a “tentative trial date [of] July 13,” but that schedule was thrown into doubt when, less than two weeks later, on April 14, Melgen was arrested on separate Medicare fraud charges totaling $190 million in Florida. Though he obtained bail on the public corruption charges, bail was not granted in the Medicare fraud charges, and he has remained in custody ever since.
Federal prosecutors handling the Medicare fraud charges say that Melgen, who has an extensive network of powerful family and political ties and still owns a vacation home in his native Dominican Republic, is a flight risk. Federal prosecutors handling the public corruption case in New Jersey did not make that argument to the court there.
Melgen did not make bail on April 14, and he has been in jail ever since.
“Melgen remains in custody while attorneys are working on a bond agreement. He has pleaded not guilty,” the Associated Press and CBS Miami reported on Monday.
Melgen’s attorneys representing him in the Medicare fraud case apparently believe they have a strong defense, and want to get that case out of the way before he faces the public corruption charges in New Jersey.
“Attorneys for Salomon Melgen said Monday they’ll look to health care experts to prove that the $190 million charges to Medicare were medically necessary,” the Associated Press and CBS Miami reported.
After Melgen’s arrest on Medicare fraud charges, Bloomberg News reported the new charges were seen as “increasing pressure on him to cooperate against the New Jersey Democrat” Menendez in the public corruption case.
For the fun loving Melgen, a well known international jet setter who “suffers from attention deficit disorder and takes sleep medication,” three weeks and counting in a Florida jail is bound to take a toll.
Though there is no indication Melgen has cooperated with federal prosecutors in the case against Menendez to date, Monday’s request from Melgen’s attorneys to try the Medicare fraud case first could be a sign of behind-the-scenes negotiations with federal prosecutors handling the public corruption case against their client.