A Florida eye doctor charged with bribing U.S. Senator Robert Menendez secured his release from jail in a separate Medicare-fraud case by agreeing to post assets worth $18 million.
Salomon Melgen, 60, won a judge’s approval Thursday of a bail package that includes a $3 million corporate surety bond and a $15 million personal surety bond.
Melgen has been in jail since his arrest April 14 on charges that he bilked Medicare out of a “substantial portion” of $105 million in reimbursements.
“We are grateful that the court agreed with our position and released Dr. Melgen this afternoon,” defense attorney Kirk Ogrosky said in a statement. “Dr. Melgen is looking forward to his day in court and is not going anywhere.”
Ogrosky argued in court papers on June 24 that prosecutors vastly overstated the alleged Medicare fraud, accusing him of “billing tens of millions of dollars for unnecessary and unreasonable procedures.” Rather, Ogrosky said, the indictment actually charges healthcare fraud concerning Medicare payments of $110,000 for 30 patients.
In the corruption case, U.S. prosecutors separately accuse Melgen of lavishing almost $1 million in luxury travel and campaign donations on Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who sought to help him in personal and business matters. Menendez was indicted with him in that case. Both pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say Menendez helped Melgen in a Medicare overbilling claim, in a contract dispute with the Dominican government and with visa applications for three girlfriends. Menendez said the U.S. is prosecuting a 20-year friendship.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Hopkins’s approval of Melgen’s bail Thursday followed his ruling soon after the doctor’s arrest that he was a “serious risk” to flee to his native Dominican Republic.
Melgen hired new lawyers who appealed to a higher-ranking district judge. That judge ruled June 5 that Melgen deserves home detention with electronic monitoring and told Hopkins to set financial terms. Hopkins held several days of hearings on the state of Melgen’s finances, and his many bank accounts and properties in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.
The complex bail package requires Melgen and several family members to post properties in Florida and the Dominican Republic if he doesn’t show up for trial.
Melgen appeared in court in shackles on Wednesday to answer dozens of questions from a prosecutor at a hearing about his assets and movement of cash.
The case is U.S. v. Melgen, 15-cr-80049, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (West Palm Beach).