Menendez co-defendant sentenced to 17 years in separate case

Dr. Salomon Melgen, the alleged co-conspirator in the corruption case of Sen. Bob Menendez, was sentenced to 17 years in prison in a separate federal case Thursday.

Melgen had been charged with 76 counts of health care fraud; making false, fictitious and fraudulent claims; and making false statements related to health care. Melgen was eventually convicted on 67 of those counts after a jury trial last year. The Florida-based ophthalmologist had participated in an overbilling scheme to defraud Medicare, according to the statement from the office of US Attorney Benjamin Greenberg of the Southern District of Florida.

“In sentencing Melgen, Judge Kenneth Marra found that the intended fraud loss was over $70 million and the actual fraud loss to Medicare was $42 million. In addition to the term of incarceration, the defendant was ordered to make full restitution to Medicare,” according to the statement. “Losses to other insurance companies and to individual patients will be determined at a future hearing.”

The allegations in this case were a major element of the corruption case involving Menendez, who prosecutors alleged worked to help Melgen work through the dispute with government officials, including speaking with then-Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about Melgen’s dispute.

In January, the Justice Department filed to dismiss its charges against Menendez and Melgen. An 11-week trial last fall resulted in a hung jury. Prosecutors had accused the senator of accepting bribes from Melgen in return for political favors. Both men pleaded not guilty to all charges.