NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A government official has testified a representative of a wealthy donor to U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez once threatened him over a contract dispute and spoke of his political connections.
U.S. Commerce Department official Scott Smith told jurors Monday an attorney for Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen met with him and another Commerce official in 2012 to ask them to intercede in a dispute between a Melgen company and the Dominican Republic over port screening equipment. Smith said the attorney acted in a threatening manner and boasted of his political connections. Smith said he understood that to mean Menendez. Prosecutors allege Melgen bribed the Democratic senator from New Jersey with luxury travel and gifts in exchange for Menendez’s help on issues such as the port dispute. Defense attorneys say there was no bribery.