Update: The Palm Beach Post just reported Melgen was convicted of all 67 counts.
“A prominent Florida eye doctor has been convicted on all counts in his Medicare fraud trial, raising the possibility he could be pressured to testify in the bribery trial of New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez,” the Associated Press reported on Friday afternoon:
Jurors announced their verdict Friday for Dr. Salomon Melgen. He effectively faces a life sentence if no deal is struck. Menendez denies any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors contended that the 62-year-old Melgen stole up to $105 million from the federal insurance program between 2008 and 2013, by giving patients treatments and tests that couldn’t help them.
Melgen’s attorneys argued that any billing issues were simply mistakes.
The jury announced the verdict after its third day of deliberation.
On April 1, 2015, Melgen and his friend and political contribution beneficiary, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), were indicted on charges of public corruption.
Two weeks later, on April 15, Melgen was indicted on 76 charges of Medicare fraud. “[P]rosecutors said [Melgen] attempted to bilk the health care program out of as much as $190 million,” the Associated Press reported at the time of the second indictment.
Sen. Menendez has previously indicated he intends to run for re-election in 2018.
With Melgen now facing life in prison, he will have reasons to consider cooperating with prosecutors as they present their case against Menendez.
Steven Sandberg, a spokesman for the senior U.S. senator from New Jersey, referred an NJ Advance Media reporters’ inquiry to a statement released earlier in the day by Menendez’s attorney, Abbe David Lowell.
“I have spoken to Sen. Menendez and he is saddened for his long-time friend and is thinking of his family on this difficult day,” wrote Lowell.
“As we have known for the past two years, the issues involved in Dr. Melgen’s case in south Florida had no bearing on the allegations made against the senator, and this verdict will have no impact on him.
“Dr. Melgen’s case focused solely on the day-to-day operations of his medical practice and the private care of his patients – specifics of which the Senator could not be aware, nor has it ever been suggested otherwise.
“From the beginning, Senator Menendez has been clear that he has always acted in accordance with the law and in his appropriate legislative oversight role as a member of Congress. When all of the facts are heard, he is fully confident that a jury will agree and he will be vindicated.”
That trial is set to begin in a New Jersey federal courtroom in the fall.