Raymond Hulser, the Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, has urged U.S. District Judge William H. Walls not to move U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) corruption trial to Washington, D.C.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
In a 17-page letter signed and dated May 26, Hulser explains to Walls why he believes Menendez’s argument to move the trial to our nation’s capital is seriously flawed.
Hulser argues that in Menendez’s indictment, he is accused of accepting “numerous things of value in New Jersey,” and although he says his attorneys are based out of Washington, D.C., they’re website indicates they are located in New York.
According to the Chadbourne and Parke LLP’s website, the law firm of Abbe Lowell and Jenny Kramer – Menendez’s attorneys in the matter – they have offices in both Washington, D.C. and New York.
Hulser continues that Menendez provides misleading information regarding witnesses for the trial: “he double-counts some Washington, D.C.-based witnesses while omitting from his analysis some New Jersey-based witnesses,” he wrote.
“This indictment was properly returned in the District of New Jersey—where venue is proper for every count in the indictment, and there are no interests of justice weighing in favor of transferring this case to Washington, D.C—where venue is improper for a majority of the counts in the indictment.”
Thus, this Court should deny the defendants’ motion,” he reasoned with Walls.
Salomon Melgen, a co-defendant in the bribery and corruption case, is a Florida eye doctor who is a longtime friend and political donor of Menendez – who allegedly used his political influence to improperly benefit Melgen – according to the indictment.
With this in mind, Hulser says that regardless of where the trial takes place, witnesses will be forced to travel.
“The likely witnesses in this case are located all over the world, including New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Florida, the Midwest, the west coast, the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe.”
“Unlike many of the cases relied on by the defendants, this is not the type of case where the majority of witnesses are located in one district and the trial is located in another. No matter where this case is tried, witnesses will be required to travel.”
He later added that Newark has various means of travel available, including an international airport and train station, as well as stating that a New Jersey jury will be more familiar with the places and locations referenced in the trial than a Washington, D.C. jury would be.
Additionally, Hulser scoffed at the notion that Menendez would not be able to perform his duties as senator if the trial takes place in New Jersey.
“Moreover, the defendants’ assertion that a public corruption trial in New Jersey threatens to disrupt government resources in Washington, D.C., demonstrates a lack of seriousness regarding the charges in this case,” he exclaimed in the letter.
“This indictment describes a pattern of expensive gifts corruptly influencing the allocation of government resources, and the case charges an egregious abuse of public office that threatens the integrity of our federal government. The integrity and efficiency of our government will be improved by the prompt trial of this case, not diminished by it.”
He also states that a strong media presence will be unavoidable for such a trial, regardless of where it takes place.
Hulser concludes by writing that “every count is properly venued” in New Jersey, therefore, “the Government respectfully requests that this Court deny the defendants’ motion to transfer the case to Washington, D.C.”
Leslie. R. Caldwell, the Assistant U.S. Attorney General, announced Hulser as the Chief of the Public Integrity section on May 7 (h/t The Legal Times).
The trial is currently scheduled for October 6 in Newark federal court.
Lowell did not immediately return a message seeking comment, but this story will be updated in the event comment is given.
Hulser’s full letter to Walls can be read here.