June 17, 2015
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that U.S. Senator Robert Menendez's corruption trial would stay in New Jersey, NorthJersey.com reports.
Mendez's lawyers had argued to U.S. District Judge William H. Walls that the heart of the case was in Washington D.C., where Mendez allegedly sold his office. However, Walls ruled that the span of the case covered areas such as the Dominican Republic, Florida, and New Jersey.
Another argument made by Menendez's legal team was concerning the location of key witnesses. Ultimately, Walls was unmoved. From NJ.com:
"Defendant's allegations were mostly naked without the clothes of reality," Walls said. "This case will certainly not be better off in the District of Columbia," Walls said.
Menendez faces charges stemming from allegations that he used his political office to benefit Florida doctor Salomon Melgen personally and financially in exchange for gifts and campaign contributions totaling almost $1 million.
Menedez allegedly helped influence Medicare billing worth tens of millions of dollars for Melgen, and helped push the visa applications of the doctor's girlfriends.
The senator has withheld his claim of innocence, pleading not guilty to charges of bribery, conspiracy, fraud and related charges in April.
Walls maintained in his decision that keeping the trial in New Jersey was important to keep Menendez's constituents informed about the case. Senator Menendez was not present for the trial, but his spokesperson maintained his claim of innocence in a statement following the decision.
Reuters contributed to this report.