Dominican police say prostitutes were paid to lie about Menendez

Officials say an attorney in the Dominican Republic paid three women to say the New Jersey senator solicited them

Topics: Robert Menendez, New Jersey, Dominican Republic, Daily Caller, Democrats,

Three Dominican women were paid to falsely claim that Sen. Robert Menendez solicited them for prostitution, according to law enforcement officials in the Dominican Republic.

The Associated Press reports:

Police spokesman Maximo Baez says officers traced the payments to attorney Melanio Figueroa. Baez says two women received about $425 each and the other was paid about $300 to falsely state on camera that they had sex with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

Baez said at a news conference Monday that authorities were seeking to interrogate Figueroa about the payments. Figueroa did not respond to messages left at his office. The women’s videotaped statements were published on a conservative U.S. website. Menendez denied the allegations.

The Daily Caller was the first to bring attention to the allegations, when it published a video back in November with two of the women, appearing with Figueroa, who claimed that Menendez paid them for sex at the home of  shady Florida ppthamologist  Salomon Melgen. Earlier this month, one woman claimed in a court filing that she had been paid to make up the prostitution claims. The Caller eventually allowed that “several troubling elements in the story remain.”

Though the prostitution allegations have for the most part fallen apart, Menendez is still being investigated by a federal grand jury for ties to Melgen, and for possibly improperly advocating for Melgen’s business interests. From the Washington Post:



Menendez has intervened in matters affecting the financial interests of Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, seeking to apply pressure on the Dominican government to honor a contract with Melgen’s port-security company, documents and interviews show. Also, Menendez’s office has acknowledged he interceded with federal health-care officials after they said that Melgen had overbilled the U.S. government for care at his clinic.

Melgen has provided Menendez with plane flights and hospitality at his Dominican vacation home, say people acquainted with their relationship.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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