NEW JERSEY (PIX11) -- New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez has pleaded not guilty to the corruption charges filed against him by federal prosecutors. Though the government still has to prove its case, the New York Times editorial board is calling for him to resign.
It says the charges in the 14 count indictment are so compelling, "he would be doing a disservice to New Jersey by clinging to power as a disgraced politician."
The editorial board declares, "Outrage is fitting in this case --- for anyone who reads the indictment."
In federal court Menendez and his longtime friend, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen pleaded not guilty to the charges meticulously spelled out in the 68 page indictment.
Menendez is alleged to have accepted a million dollars in gifts and favors from Melgen. In return he is alleged to have used his political clout to influence matters that were beneficial to the doctor.
In court, government lawyers said they wanted to go to trial as quickly as possible. Menendez's lawyer Abbe Lowell balked, "They've had the case three years. We have had it only one day." The judge set a trial date of July 13.
While Menendez was released in his own recognizance, Dr. Melgen had to post $1.5 million bond, forfeit his passport and was ordered to ground his private jet.
The Senator has to hand over his personal passport, but was permitted to retain his official passport to travel on government business.
Outside court, Defense Attorney Lowell blasted the government for an investigation that began with "false and salacious allegations." And he called for an investigation of improper leaks to the media.
He said, "Prosecutors got to write the indictment they wanted to, after a secret one-sided presentation to a grand jury. Now they have to make good on those charges." Lowell added, "Prosecutors at Justice often get it wrong, and these charges are the latest mistake."
Senator Menendez spoke briefly, "For nearly three years there have been allegations based on smears by opponents trying to hurt me. Now is our opportunity to respond to them."
Again he insisted, "These allegations are false and I am confident they will be proven false and I am looking forward to doing so in court."