WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – FBI agents conducted a raid of the office of a prominent doctor and political donor.
The focus of the search at the Vitreo-Retinal Consultants Eye Center was reportedly Dr. Salomon Melgen’s finances, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
After more than 12 hours in Melgen’s West Palm Beach office, dozens of FBI agents, along with personnel from the Office of Inspector General, filed out in a single file line, carrying box after box of confiscated material.
While searching the office, agents carried in a pry bar and later called in a locksmith. When CBS4 News asked the locksmith what he was doing inside he said, “Opening some locks,” but he would not say anything more.
Melgen is suspected of providing free trips and even underage prostitutes to U.S. Senator Bob Menedez, according to the paper. Menendez has denied the accusations and called them “fallacious allegations.”
Over the last 15 years or so, Melgen and his family have contributed at least $357,000 to several candidates including Sen. Bill Nelson and Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Joe Garcia, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, according to the paper. Of that, the Melgens have contributed about 9 percent to Menendez’s federal campaigns.
Click Here for more on the relationship between Melgen and Menendez.
Menendez and Melgen are longtime friends, according to the senator’s spokeswoman.
According to Menendez’s office, the senator has flown on Melgen’s plane more than once during his time as the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Melgen reportedly contributed more than $60,000 to this group.
According to the Miami Herald, Menendez was linked to Melgen just before the November elections when two alleged prostitutes told the Daily Caller, a conservative website, that they sex with the senator at at Melgen’s Dominican Republic mansion in Casa de Campo.
Days before Menendez was about to start leading the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as chairman, reporters received a 58-page dossier of emails between a Miami FBI agent and a tipster who claimed that some of the prostitutes had been underage, according to the Miami Herald.
The FBI has reportedly not commented on the emails.
On Wednesday, Menendez’s office released statement on the investigation.
“Senator Menendez has traveled on Dr. Melgen’s plane on three occasions, all of which have been paid for and reported appropriately,” according to the statement. “Any allegations of engaging with prostitutes are manufactured by a politically-motivated right-wing blog and are false.”
When asked if there should be a full investigation into Sen. Menenedez’s actions, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid replies “The answer is, I always consider the source, and all anyone here has to look at it is the source where this comes from. It’s — it’s a source that has brought up a lot of non-issues.”
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.