Dominican model takes stand in Menendez corruption trial

Dominican model takes stand in Menendez corruption trial

Dominican model takes stand in Menendez corruption trial

Earlier testimony by Mark Lopes, the senator's former senior policy advisor, focused on the New Jersey Democrat's assistance in getting Rosiell Polanco and her sister, as well as Buchyk and another woman, to the U.S, on Melgen's behalf.

Prosecutors sought to flesh out two different instances in which they alleged Menendez attempted to secure travel visas for Melgen's foreign girlfriends - one from Brazil and the other from the Dominican Republic - to visit him in the United States.

On the stand Tuesday, Polanco testified that she and her sister Korall Polanco had initially applied for a visa in 2008 with the support of a letter from the senator to the consul general.

The testimony capped off day three of the corruption trial of Menendez and his friend, wealthy Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, who each face about a dozen counts of bribery, conspiracy, and fraud. Prosecutors said they orchestrated a scheme in which Melgen gave Menendez gifts and campaign donations in exchange for Menendez's political influence.

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Throughout the trial so far, prosecutors have been claiming that despite a friendship between Melgen and Menendez, acts like Menendez seeking visas for foreign girlfriends were part of a quid pro quo agreement between the two.

Defense attorneys have said Menendez planned to give Melgen the points back, but prosecutors introduced Menendez's AmEx bill to show that in 2013, he used almost all of his 135,000 points to buy a barbecue grill.

"RM does not need to be calling US ambassadors about stuff like this", the former aide, Mark Lopes, wrote to a colleague, according to an email shown Tuesday in federal court in Newark. Menendez testified Monday, alleging Sen.

It would have taken the New Jersey senator 30 years to acquire that many points based on the rate he was accumulating them, American Express' VP for Membership Rewards Andrew Thomas testified. "Yes, call if necessary", Menendez emailed back.

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"He wanted me to be proactive about advocating the outcome that he sought and didn't want to wait for a response", Lopes said.

About a week later, Polanco Suero got a call from the embassy inviting her and her sister to a second interview, she said. "It damages Menendez's reputation to take something like this all the way to the ambassador". Menendez is accused of getting involved in a third visa application for Melgen over a girlfriend from Ukraine. And when he did amass a significant amount of points, Menendez bought a Weber Genesis grill, according to his credit card statement.

Menendez' attorney noted Melgen's son-in-law told the senator at the time that the Paris room was the only room type available through points redemption, and the number of points spent was not revealed to the senator. The three-night stay at the Park Hyatt in Paris is one of several instances in which Menendez accepted gifts from Melgen, according to the indictment. In 2010, when Melgen used his points to pay for the hotel, Menendez had just 58,000 points on his card.

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