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Eye doctor, senator face retrial on Medicare fraud-related charges

A few days ago, New York media was filled with surprise that U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and his friend, Dr. Salomon Melgen, will be retried on corruption charges. More eyebrows were raised later when a judge granted a request to acquit the pair on several charges they faced in a case that ended in mistrial last year.

Menendez is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for interceding with government officials on his friend’s behalf. Melgen is an eye doctor who was being investigated for Medicare fraud that revolved around his Florida practice.

Melgen was convicted last year on Medicare fraud charges that had their genesis in those earlier investigations. The ophthalmologist is awaiting sentencing.

In the retrial, 11 charges remain, including allegations of bribery, conspiracy and fraud.

After last year’s mistrial, a number of jurors said that up to 10 jurors favored acquittal. Many experts had predicted the government would not attempt a retrial. No date has yet been set for the resumption of the government’s pursuit of the two.

“A jury rejected the government’s facts and theory of bribery, and now the trial judge has rejected a critical legal theory on which the case was brought,” said Menendez’s lead lawyer. “The decision … to retry the case makes even less sense than it did last week and we hope it would be reconsidered.”

Even with its vast resources, the government sometimes fails to persuade jurors. That doesn’t happen on its own, of course. Skilled attorneys with deep knowledge of health care law and the legal process are critical to the pursuit of positive outcomes.

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