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Menendez friend convicted of Medicare fraud

New York City residents are well-acquainted with New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez. The longtime congressman and now the state's senior senator, he has been a fixture on our area's political scene for decades.

Menendez has been embroiled in a Medicare fraud and corruption scandal for the past couple of years. The case recently took a turn that many observers believe could result in more trouble for him. The Florida eye doctor and Menendez friend at the center of the controversy was recently convicted of Medicare fraud.

Dr. Salomon Melgen now faces up to 20 years in a federal prison after being convicted of health care fraud, falsifying patient records and submitting false claims.

Menendez denies all accusations of wrongdoing.

According to news reports, in 2012 Melgen received more money from Medicare than any doctor anywhere: $21 million.

The senator's defense attorney said Menendez is saddened by the conviction of his longtime friend. He added that Melgen's case has "no bearing on the allegations made against the Senator, and this verdict will have no impact on him."

Later this year, Melgen and Menendez will go to court to face charges that the physician bribed the senator. In return, prosecutors say, Menendez intervened in a billing dispute Melgen had with Medicare.

In Melgen's recent trial, prosecutors persuaded jurors that the doctor stole millions of dollars from Medicare by billing the federal program for unneeded tests and treatments. Defense attorneys had argued that the doctor made unintentional errors in both billing and treatment.

Law enforcement investigations of possible errors do not have to lead to criminal charges. You can speak with an attorney experienced in helping medical professionals avoid indictment, fines and civil penalties.

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