Former Iowa senator testifies in Menendez trial

Conviction reversal adds intrigue to Menendez bribery trial

Tom Harkin of Iowa testified Wednesday at the bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Menendez allegedly exchanged his political influence for trips on Melgen's private plane and for stays at luxury hotels.

In exchange, prosecutors charge, Menendez sought to help the doctor on several fronts, from getting visas for the doctor's girlfriends to trying to resolve a multimillion dollar billing dispute with the US government.

The indictment says that Melgen fumed in an email to Menendez: "These people are unbelievable".

Medicare said Melgen overbilled them in 2007 and 2008 by $8.9 million. He claims that actions like arranging the meeting between Harkin and Melgen were done because Melgen brought issues that seemed valid to his attention.

"I did it as a courtesy", Harkin said of the meeting, which he took at the request of fellow Democrat Menendez. Harkin chaired a Senate health committee at the time. Tom Harkin, a one-time Democratic presidential candidate, whom the prosecution also called to the stand Wednesday.

At the time of the meeting, which took place at Harkin's Senate office, the Iowa Democrat was chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

"We always referred to it jokingly as "C-Mess" because, yes, we did a great deal of oversight", Harkin said.

Earlier Wednesday the jury heard Jacques explain that splitting the vial among different patients, known as "multi-dosing", created a risk of infection, but Harkin said that Melgen assured that he was using "clean needles". Harkin added the billing aspect of the situation troubled him. "I would say in my 10 years, this was one of three that was like this", she said. "That doesn't sound right to me, either".

Menendez is accused of improperly using his office to help young women from three countries get visas to visit Melgen in Florida and of intervening in a dispute Melgen had with the Obama administration over Medicare reimbursements.

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Harkin recalled that Menendez introduced him to Melgen but didn't speak during the 15- or 20-minute meeting in Harkin's office.

On his way out of court, Harkin stopped to shake Menendez's hand.

Prosecutors say Menendez took various actions on behalf of Florida eye Doctor Salomon Melgen. Robert Menendez on Wednesday, prosecutors said. Back in 2015, after he was interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation but before Menendez was indicted, Reid publicly praised the senator, saying Menendez "has done a stellar job as chair of the [Foreign Relations] committee, and as far as I am concerned, he's been an outstanding senator".

A former health administrator has testified a staffer to U.S. Sen. She also had a subsequent meeting with Harkin to discuss the points Melgen addressed during the interaction.

Before the meeting, Krishnamoorthy said she contacted Sen. CMS was investigating Melgen's billing practices.

Harkin said that, while he found the dosing instructions of Lucentis wasteful, he did not follow up on the issue after his meeting with Melgen.

Harkin said, "I remember two things". Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Poll finds little support for Menendez reelection Judge tells Menendez lawyer to "shut up" MORE's (D-N.J.) co-defendant Salomon Melgen used his client's political connections to try to intimidate agency officials over a lucrative port security contract.

The staffer said "bad medicine isn't illegal" and Medicare should allow Melgen to bill the way he did, Louis Jacques testified.


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