WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida doctor accused of giving lavish gifts to U.S. Senator Robert Menendez in a corruption case could soon be freed after a bail hearing Monday where prosecutors asked for bail to be set at $20 million on separate Medicare fraud charges.
Salomon Melgen faces 76 counts of Medicare fraud and falsifying medical records, and has been in jail since his indictment in April. He has pleaded not guilty.
Bail terms could be set at a hearing on Wednesday after a federal judge ruled last week that Melgen, 60, can be granted bail as long as a series of strict conditions are met, including home detention, electronic monitoring and no access to boats or planes.
Federal prosecutors and Melgen’s attorneys were unable to agree to a bond on Monday following questions regarding the value of his assets in the Dominican Republic, where he owns a home and businesses.
Prosecutors want bail set high, saying Melgen’s citizenship of the Caribbean country and extensive investments there make him a flight risk, according to court documents.
Melgen’s attorney, Matthew Menchel, called the amount “exorbitant.”
Among the assets on the table were Melgen’s personal life insurance policy worth $5 million and an estimated $4 million of art.
Last week Judge Kenneth Marra found that the notoriety of the case “and the fact that he is a co-defendant with a United States Senator, makes it unlikely that any attempt to flee would be successful.”
Marra added: ”Great diplomatic and political pressure
would be brought to bear on any country that might consider shielding Defendant from extradition.”
From January 2008 to December 2013, Melgen billed Medicare more than $190 million and was paid over $105 million, according to the federal indictment filed in the U.S. Southern District of Florida.
He is accused of ordering unnecessary tests and falsifying records at his Florida practice, which saw as many as 100 patients a day. Medicare is the government health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.
In a separate case, Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, is charged with accepting up to $1 million worth of gifts from Melgen in exchange for using his political clout to help influence the outcome of Medicare disputes worth tens of millions to Melgen.
The two men, who are close friends, pleaded not guilty in April to political corruption charges in New Jersey. Melgen was released on $1.5 million bond in that case.
Editing by David Adams and Eric Walsh