The FBI has revealed that they are investigating Bob Menendez, and not the donor to his campaign, for engaging in sexual activity with teenaged girls, including a 16 year old prostitute in New Jersey.
Two FBI sources have reported that the bureau’s inquiry into Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is now based in New Jersey, not Miami. One added that pressure is mounting from the highest levels of the Justice Department to pursue the investigation.
The change of focus away from the bureau’s Miami field office indicates that the government is focused primarily on Sen. Menendez — and not on his longtime donor Dr. Salomon Melgen, as political observers have speculated.
Menendez is embroiled in a scandal sparked by allegations that he slept with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.
The Daily Caller first reported in 2012 on the allegations, publishing videotaped interviews with two women, neither of whom was under 18 years old, who said they were paid to have sex with the senator.
One source, a current agent in an East Coast field office, declined to be quoted but told TheDC that the initial investigation began in Miami and was later moved to Newark, New Jersey.
He would not specify who was managing the investigation or when it was moved north.
The other source is a recently retired agent with direct knowledge of the investigation.
Documents published online in January by an anonymous whistle-blower included emails to and from an FBI agent based in Miami
“I don’t have a comment,” Special Agent Barbara Woodruff told TheDC from the Newark Field Office.”Per DOJ policy, we cannot comment on the existence or non-existence of any investigation.”
Citing its own sources close to Menendez, PolitickerNJ reported Monday evening that the FBI has had no contact with the senator about its investigation.
Menendez has forcefully denied any involvement with prostitutes of any age, though he recently reimbursed Melgen $58,500 for two private jet trips to the Dominican Republican in 2010.
In a handwritten statement provided last year to a whistle-blower, a young prostitute detailed allegations that she slept with Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez beginning “when I was 16 years old.”
“During [one] visit of Senator Bob Menendez to the Dominican Republic, I had intimate relations with him on more than one occasion,” the unidentified woman wrote, according to The Daily Caller’s translation. She appears to be a new voice among what are now at least six women purported to have engaged in sex for money with Menendez.
Her claim appears in a Spanish-language testimonial collected by Peter Williams, a tipster who brought a series of similar allegations to light. He emailed a government reform group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), in April 2012 with interviews and testimonials he obtained from women he said he had met in the Dominican Republic.
Melanie Sloan, CREW’s president, said in January that she turned over a file of allegations against Menendez to the Department of Justice in July. She has since distanced herself from those claims.
CREW is generally seen as a politically liberal advocacy group.
“I met Senator Bob Menendez at Salomon’s house when I was 16 years old,” the anonymous note says, referring to Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist whose private jet ferried Menendez back and forth to the island nation at least three times. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reimbursed Melgen for one of those trips. Menendez personally paid Melgen for two more with a $58,500 check in January, more than two years after the flights occurred.
“I spent time with him several times, right there in Solomon’s house, and we had intimate relations,” the handwritten account continues. “That was in February and March 2009. I also remember on one occasion the senator participated in one of the yacht outings, to which I went various times with Salomon and other girls.”
The Daily Caller reported Monday on related allegations that a yacht owned by Vinicio “Vinicito” Castillo Seman, the scion of a prominent Dominican political family, was the scene of trysts with prostitutes involving both Melgen and Menendez
Writing about one yacht party, another young woman wrote on April 21, 2012 that “Vinicito was there” and that he “goes to many of the doctor’s functions and invents things [to do] with the young girls, and then forces them to do the same things with the doctor’s friend.”
That friend is likely Menendez. In the same email, she called him Melgen’s “good friend [who] is very important in the United States.”
“And he really liked it,” she added, “and wanted to take them to another place, but I don’t know where. They threatened those girls and told them to not talk, and that they couldn’t leave.”
The same woman wrote of Menendez: “The first time I saw him was more than three years ago at the beginning of March, because it was around my birthday,” she wrote.
In a separate email to Williams, a different young woman wrote that she had sex with Menendez while she was 16 years old — “three times at least” in 2009.
The months of February, May and June 2009 don’t coincide with those described in the handwritten account, suggesting that it was written by a third young woman, and the second to claim that Menendez committed what U.S. law would call statutory rape.
On Jan. 31 a Menendez spokesperson flatly denied that the senator had engaged in any sexual contact with prostitutes.
“All of these allegations from a right-wing blog of engaging in prostitution are absolutely false,” said the spokesperson.”The Senator has known Dr. Melgen for years and his travel on Melgen’s plane on three occasions has been reported and reimbursed as required by the rules.”
The FBI raided Melgen’s flagship medical offices last week in what various reports characterized as related either to the Menendez case, or to an ongoing Medicare fraud scheme.