Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Eli Richardson provided comment for an article outlining the attempt by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and alleged co-conspirator Dr. Salomon Melgen to have the court dismiss 15 of the 22 corruption counts that were handed down against the pair earlier this year. In April 2015, Menendez and Salomon were indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey on corruption charges related to Menendez's relationship with Melgen; the indictment alleges that the Senator used his office to further the business interests of the doctor and accepted bribes in return for favors.
The September article in Law360 focuses in part on wire-fraud counts in the indictment that allege an unusual form of interstate wires – or, more precisely in this case, "signals and sounds" – transmitted in furtherance of the defendant's alleged scheme to defraud. Specifically, the prosecutors allege in two counts that the interstate "signals and signs" – an essential element of the offense of wire fraud – consisted of communications that took place between the pilot of Melgen's private jet and the air traffic controller on the ground while Menendez was a passenger on Melgen's jet. As Eli points out for the article, "'[c]ourts typically construe this notion [of interstate communications in furtherance of a scheme to defraud] very broadly, but this could be a rare case in which the government stretched the concept too far. The court may sympathize with the notion that the scheme to defraud is absolutely not furthered or carried out in any way by unspecified signals to an air traffic controller from a plane that happens to be carrying alleged beneficiaries of the scheme to defraud'"
The full story, "Menendez Faces Tough Sell In Bid To Cut Corruption Charges," was published by Law360 on September 16, 2015 and is available online.