FBI investigating So. Fla. doctor
MIAMI (WSVN) -- A high profile doctor, a U.S. senator and accusations of free trips and prostitutes were enough to have the FBI raid a South Florida doctor's office.
Right now, the FBI has not said much about the investigation, and they have not charged anyone.
The investigation appears to target Dr. Salomon Melgen, who runs four eye clinics, three in Palm Beach County and on in Port Saint Lucie. Melgen has been known to contribute to the campaigns of several high-profile Democratic congresspeople.
Things took a twist when FBI agents and representatives of the Office of the Inspector General for Health and Human Services raided the doctor's office Tuesday night. Officials went to all four of Melgen's clinics, but spent the longest time at the West Palm Beach office, located on Metrocentre Boulevard. They left carrying dozens of boxes containing undisclosed materials.
The investigation is believed to be centered around Melgen's finances. The ophthalmologist reportedly owes the IRS roughly $11 million in back taxes. But some believe there is a lot more here.
Melgen is known to be friends with U.S. Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey. The senator's office confirmed the two men have even taken a trip to the Dominican Republic on the doctor's private plane. However, according to published reports, the two actually took several trips to a private resort on the Caribbean island.
It was at the resort Casa De Campo where two prostitutes claimed they had sex with Senator Menendez. There are even reports the prostitutes may have been underage. Sources have claimed they went on a plane similar to the CL-600 Challenger owned by Dr. Melgen.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid condemned the prostitution allegations, which first surfaced on The Daily Caller, a conservative web site. "Anyone here needs to look at the source where this comes from," he said during a press conference, "it's a source that has brought up a lot of non-issues. I told you how I feel about the source of this stuff. It's just very, very ill. Typical for the source," he continued.
Everything came to light after a series of e-mails between a Miami FBI agent and an anonymous source in the Dominican Republic.
The Daily Caller carries what it claims to be interviews with two alleged prostitutes who claims they first had sex with Menendez when they were 16. "In 2009, I saw Bob three times at least," one of the women claimed in the interview posted on the web site. "I recall his visit in June so well because that month was my 17th birthday," she continued.
So far, the FBI has not confirmed any of the details involving prostitution. They are only saying the doctor is under investigation, reportedly over his taxes.
Senator Menendez reportedly denied the allegations to a reporter on Monday. In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Menendez's press secretary, Paul Brubaker, admitted the senator "has traveled on Dr. Melgen's plane on three occasions."
Brubaker indicated that Menendez paid for and reported for each trip. He also denied that the New Jersey legislator engaged in any way with prostitutes. "The allegations are manufactured by a politically motivated right-wing blog and are false," the statement read.
It is a federal offense for a U.S. citizen to travel overseas to pay anyone under the age of 18 for sex, and they can be prosecuted upon their return.
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