Menendez pleads ‘not guilty’ to 14 count indictment; status hearing set for April 22

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 NEWARK — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and the man he stands accused of using his office to illegally benefit both strode silently with their posses into a courtroom at the U.S. District Court today for the first hearing in a federal corruption case that has rocked the New Jersey political scene.

Menendez and Salomon Melgen, the Florida eye doctor whom allegedly donated nearly $1 million worth of gifts and campaign donations to the ranking Democrat in exchange for personal and business interest benefits, both pleaded not guilty to the 14-count indictment handed down by the Justice Department yesterday.

Menendez agreed to surrender his personal passport, while Salomon agreed to surrender his personal passport, a collection a firearms he keeps in his Florida home, ground his private jet, and set a $1.5 million bond.

The two men hardly looked at each other, and neither spoke, as the hearing played out.

A status hearing was set by the judge for April 22, and the first trial date was set tentatively for July 13.

Menendez pleads ‘not guilty’ to 14 count indictment; status hearing set for April 22