A federal appeals court refused Tuesday to dismiss corruption charges against U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
An attorney for the indicted Democrat had asked the full 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to review a three-judge panel’s ruling allowing the case against him to move forward. But that request was denied the same day that prosecutors filed a motion asking a judge to hold a hearing to set a trial date.
Abbe Lowell had argued the charges should be tossed because of a constitutional clause that protects the actions of sitting lawmakers. But the three-judge panel found the dispute is something that needs to be decided at trial.
Lowell has said he’ll appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
Lowell had argued before the panel in February that the senator’s meetings with government officials were held to discuss policy matters, not to benefit a wealthy friend. Prosecutors allege the friend, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, plied Menendez with gifts and campaign donations in exchange for political influence.
Menendez and Melgen have pleaded not guilty to bribery and fraud charges.