Key allegations in motions by Sen. Menendez and friend

AP News
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Posted: Jul 28, 2015 11:07 AM

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen want a judge to dismiss the 22- count against them unsealed in April. The government will file its responses to the defendants' motions next month.

Here are some of the key allegations made in court filings:

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ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE

Melgen's attorneys claim FBI agents, authorized by a warrant to search his office only for evidence of Medicare fraud, illegally seized other evidence that was later mischaracterized as proof of his involvement with prostitutes. In one instance, they say an FBI agent swore under oath that the name "Dixi" in Melgen's notebook followed by the numbers "1200 - 1500" referred to a prostitute and her rates, when actually the entry was a reference to "a business dispute involving trash collection by Dixi Sanitary Co.," a business in the Dominican Republic.

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PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT

Some of the alleged evidence involving prostitutes was presented to the grand jury in "irrelevant and inflammatory" testimony that unfairly prejudiced the defendants, part of a pattern of prosecutorial misconduct, the defense has claimed. In addition to injecting "sexual innuendo and other irrelevant lines of questioning" into the proceedings, the defendants claim the government improperly instructed the grand jury on the law; presented hearsay testimony through an FBI agent instead of calling witnesses who had firsthand knowledge, and leaked information to the media about pending indictments that tainted the grand jury pool.

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FIRST AMENDMENT

Rather than selling his office by accepting gifts and campaign donations from Melgen in exchange for acting on his behalf, Melgen was merely securing access or influence with Menendez, which is not illegal. The Supreme Court has "repeatedly, and in recent years emphatically, made clear that efforts to obtain access and influence, and even to cultivate goodwill and favoritism, are protected by the First Amendment." The filing claims at least 12 counts should be dismissed because the government has failed to show the donations were made in return for an explicit promise for official action.