N.J. Senator Connected to Miami Doctor Involved in FBI Raid
Miami — FBI agents late Tuesday night raided the West Palm Beach business of an eye doctor suspected of providing free trips and even underage Dominican Republic prostitutes to U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. — who has denied what he calls the “fallacious allegations.”
Agents gathered at the medical-office complex of Dr. Salomon Melgen, a contributor to Menendez and other prominent politicians, to start hauling away potential evidence in several vans.
The investigation is believed to be focusing on Melgen’s finances and the allegations about Menendez’s trips and contact with prostitutes. A spokesman for Menendez could not be reached for comment, nor could Melgen.
Melgen has an outstanding IRS lien of $11.1 million for taxes owed from 2006 to 2009, according to records filed with the Palm Beach County recorder’s office. A previous IRS lien for $6.2 million was released in 2011.
Despite those financial problems, Melgen and his family have contributed at least $357,000 to candidates and committees since 1998, according to Florida and federal campaign records. Of that, the Melgens have contributed about 9 percent to Menendez’s federal campaigns.
Melgen also owns a private CL-600 Challenger plane through one of his West Palm Beach-based companies, and frequently flies between South Florida and Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, where he is from.
Menendez has flown on the plane at least once, his office has said, when he was chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2009 to 2011, when the Melgens contributed about $60,400 to the group. A spokeswoman had previously said that Menendez and Melgen are longtime friends and said the senator did nothing improper.
Melgen was first linked to Menendez just before the November elections, when the conservative Daily Caller website interviewed two alleged prostitutes who said they had relations with the New Jersey Democrat at Melgen’s Dominican Republic mansion in Casa de Campo.
After the election, the news died down.
But then, days before Menendez was about to start leading the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as chairman, reporters started receiving a 58-page dossier of e-mails between a Miami FBI agent and a tipster who claimed that some of the prostitutes had been underage.
“I’m not going to respond to the fallacious allegations of your story,” Menendez told the Daily Caller on Monday when a reporter caught up with him on a train in Washington.