Bail set for Florida doctor tied to Senator Menendez corruption case

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 02, 2015 5:44 PM

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI, Fla. (Reuters) - A judge set bail on Thursday at $18 million in a Medicare fraud case for a doctor who has also been accused of bribery and political corruption for giving lavish gifts to U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, his attorney said.

Salomon Melgen, 60, has pleaded not guilty to 76 counts of Medicare fraud and falsifying medical records in federal court in southern Florida.

The millionaire ophthalmologist had been jailed since his indictment in April, while prosecutors and defense attorneys negotiated assurances that Melgen, who holds a Dominican Republic passport and owns extensive property and investments in the Caribbean country, would not flee.

Melgen is expected to post bonds totaling $18 million and be freed on Thursday, his attorney Matthew Menchel told Reuters, and will wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

During a June bond hearing, Melgen's attorneys said he is in the process of selling his private airplane.

Melgen is accused of ordering unnecessary tests and falsifying records at his Florida practice.

From January 2008 to December 2013, Melgen's clinic billed Medicare more than $190 million and was paid more than $105 million, much of that based on fraudulent claims, according to a federal indictment.

Medicare is the government health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.

Last month U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra agreed to grant Melgen bail, saying the notoriety of the case, as well as his family and business ties to Florida, would guarantee his appearance in court.

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In a separate case, Melgen is accused of giving Menendez, a powerful Democrat from New Jersey and former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, up to $1 million worth of gifts in seeking his help influencing the outcome of Medicare disputes.

The two men, who are close friends, pleaded not guilty in April to political corruption charges in New Jersey, and Melgen was released on $1.5 million bond.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)