- 1 Summary
- 2 Relation to #Pizzagate
- 2.1 Source of Wealth
- 2.2 Connection to Casa de Campo
- 2.3 Connection to New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez
- 2.4 Connection to Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton
- 2.5 Connection to Terry McAuliffe
- 3 Themes
- 4 See also
A native of the Dominican Republic, Salomon Melgen has been practicing ophthalmology for decades in Florida. Melgen is has also been a top donor to Democratic political campaigns. His practice, the Melgen Retina Eye Center, specializes in surgery of the vitreous and retina — with offices in West Palm Beach and three other Florida locations.
He and close friend, Senator Bob Menendez, are under prosecution for several alleged crimes.
Relation to #Pizzagate
Source of Wealth
Melgen is unusually wealthy for an eye surgeon. Eye surgeons typically only make up to $500k per year and 4% or less make more than that.
Part of Melgen's wealth probably comes from overbilling Medicare. "The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had reportedly found that Melgen over-billed the government by $8.9 million." As of mid 2016, the case is still ongoing and prosecutors now believe Melgen may have bilked closer to $190 million.
According to Breitbart, another source of Melgen's wealth is a technology company he formed with a cocaine smuggler:
1998 – Melgen makes a seed venture investment in Seisint, a Boca Raton Florida database company founded by admitted Caribbean cocaine smuggler Hank Asher, who claims to have voluntarily left the business to “go straight” and become a legitimate entrepreneur. Melgen’s lawyer will later claim that the profits off this investment formed the basis of his substantial wealth.
Connection to Casa de Campo
From the NY Post:
Melgen’s mansion, Villa Mehler, sits on a golf course in the gated 11-square-mile compound, where entry is restricted to residents, their guests and anyone staying at a $500-a-night hotel there. A worker at a neighboring property recalled a parade of women visiting the mansion when Melgen vacationed there with friends.
Connection to New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez
Robert ["Bob"] Menendez had recently been sworn in as New Jersey's first Hispanic congressman and was running for re-election when he met eye doctor Salomon Melgen at a Florida Fundraiser in 1993. Since then, Melgen has become close friends with the Hudson County Democrat — who is now one of New Jersey's two U.S. senators — and has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Menendez's various campaigns. "The senator and I have become like brothers, like friends," Melgen said in a 2013 interview with Bloomberg News. Now, their relationship is the subject of a federal corruption case. Menendez and Melgen, both 61, were indicted Wednesday on conspiracy, bribery, and fraud charges. Prosecutors allege that Menendez used his political influence to help Melgen's business dealings after accepting lavish gifts and large campaign donations from the doctor.
Menedez's Trips to Melgen's "Villa Mehler" in Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic
From the NY Times:
The friendship between the two men goes back to the 1990s, when Mr. Menendez, who entered the House of Representatives in 1993, began regularly visiting the Dominican Republic. They spent holidays together, often in the Dominican Republic, where Dr. Melgen has a home in Casa de Campo, a gated oceanfront resort where houses cost as much as $20 million and which has been home to some of the country’s richest residents, like Oscar de la Renta. Both enjoyed a good cigar and playing golf; Casa de Campo has several places to play, designed by the renowned course architect Pete Dye.
Port Security Contract
One business dealing Menendez assisted Melgen with involved port security for the Dominican Republic.
From the NY Times:
- Two years ago [in 2011], Dr. Melgen, despite an apparent lack of experience in border security issues, bought an ownership interest in a company that had a long-dormant contract with the Dominican Republic to provide port security. Mr. Menendez, who is chairman of the Senate subcommittee that holds sway over the Dominican Republic, subsequently urged officials in the State Department and Commerce Department to intervene so the contract would be enforced, at an estimated value of $500 million.
Breitbart goes into greater detail on the complete history of the port security contract:
- 2002 – Less than two years after Major General Beauchamp’s assassination, President Mejia gives his widow, Belinda Galvan, the extraordinary contract that granted the company she owned, ICSSI, a monopoly on the inspection of all containers going in and out of the twelve Dominican ports for a period of ten years. The contract was granted despite Galvan’s lack of port security experience, the lack of any financial assets in her company, the lack of any X-ray machines or other security equipment, and the lack of any experience or knowledge in the operation of such equipment.
Both the Dominican Armed Forces leaders who sign off on the contract and the Dominican Congress that ratified it, at the request of President Mejia, may have been duped by a legal sleight of hand. They may have believed they were approving a contract with a legitimate company of Panamanian registry with a very similar name, ICSS, to Galvan’s ICSSI.
Salomon Melgen’s first cousin, Pelegrin Castillo, a Deputy in the Dominican Republic’s Chamber of Deputies, votes against the ICSSI port deal because it was granted without competitive bidding.</pre>
- Late 2002 – The Swiss firm Cotecna, a world wide expert in port security and equipment, purchases a 50% interest in ICSSI for a payment of $50,000. In a highly unusual element of the deal, Cotecna promises to pay Galvan an additional $1 million for the “goodwill” in the company that resulted from her efforts to secure the monopoly deal from the Dominican Republic. It is not clear if that money is ever paid to Galvan.
- 2003-The original contract between ICSSI and the government of the Dominican Republic, that was ratified by the Dominican Congress in 2002, is revised significantly to the advantage of ICSSI by executive fiat of President Mejia, as reported by the Dominican Republic news site Diario Libre.
The Diario Libre article referenced:
- 2004 – In the Dominican Republic, the Customs Directorate files a lawsuit in Dominican courts to stop the enforcement of it calls the “unconstitutional” ICSSI contract.
- 2006 – As the ICSSI lawsuit winds through the Dominican courts, Customs Director Cocco tries for a compromise. He asks Galvan to modify the contract so that it will be controlled by Cotecna, a company that has the track record and experience she and ICSSI lack. Galvan refuses, and in 2006, she buys back Cotecna’s half interest in the company, though it’s unclear what the financial terms of the transaction are.
- 2009 – Melgen forms Boarder Support Services, a Florida limited liability company. This entity will later purchase controlling interest in ICSSI.
- 2010 – An audit of ICSSI related to the Dominican lawsuit shows that it has only $50,000 in assets–$10,000 in cash and $40,000 in equipment.
- August, 2011 – Dr. Salomon Melgen purchases a 50% interest in ICSSI for $100,000 through his company Boarder Support Services, LLC. The only significant asset of ICSSI–the company in which he now owns a half interest–is a disputed and unimplemented concessionary port contract that could be worth $500 million over ten years, but it has been languishing in litigation for seven years, with no end in sight.
- December, 2011 – Dominican President Leonel Fernández, a friend of Melgen’s who has attended at least one event at Melgen’s Dominican mansion, creates a commission designed to circumvent the stalled ICSSI legal case. He stacks the commission with Melgen allies, including the former legal counsel for ICSSI.
- May 20, 2012 – Danilo Medina is elected President of the Dominican Republic. He is a member of the same party as his predecessor, Leonel Fernández. Fernández’s wife wins election as Medina’s Vice-President.
- July 31, 2012 – Senator Menendez publicly pressures State Department officials at a hearing of a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee he chairs to “send a message” to the Dominican Republic that the country must not violate contracts with companies that are American owned.
- August 15, 2012 – On the last day of his term, the commission established by Dominican Republic President Fernández issues a report with recommendations to him that are highly favorable to Melgen’s ICSSI. It recommends removing the implementation of the contract from the Customs Directorate, which opposes it, to the Dominican Port Authority, which presumably is more inclined to implement the ICSSI contract. The commission also rejects the Customs Directorate’s recommendation that the entire contract be re-opened for competitive bidding.
- August 16, 2012 – Danilo Medina is inaugurated as President of the Dominican Republic, replacing Leonel Fernández. Medina must now decide whether to accept the recommendations of his predecessor’s commission to force implementation of the ICSSI contract or wait for the court case to be resolved.
- December 2012 – Pedro Pablo Permuy, former aide to Senator Menendez, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Latin America, current President of the US-Spain Council, joins Melgen to call on State Department officials in Washington on behalf of ICSSI. They tell Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd Roberson, whose responsibilities include anti-narcotics enforcement, that the State Department should support enforcement of ICSSI’s disputed contract. Melgen also objects to State Department plans to donate port security equipment to a second Dominican port, as it will hurt his disputed contract. An aide to Senator Menendez follows ups with an e-mail to the State Department that reiterates this concern.
- January 2013 – As the New York Times reported, a member of Senator Menendez’s staff e-mails officials at Customs and Boarder Protection at the Department of Homeland Security. The aide argues against an American donation of port security equipment to a second Dominican report, stating that the Dominican government may not use it properly. “Only by hiring the unnamed private contractor, the e-mail said, could the United States be assured that port security in the Dominican Republic would be enhanced,” according to the Times.
- February 5, 2013 – The New York Times reports that a lawyer for Melgen’s security company claims that Pedro Pablo Permuy, a former senior aide to Senator Robert Menendez, will run the operations of the firm’s Dominican port security contract. In an email to the Times, Permuy denies that he is either an employee or a board member of Melgen’s security company. He does not comment on whether he has been paid by Melgen as a consultant. A spokesman for Senator Menendez claims the senator had no knowledge of Permuy’s involvement with Melgen’s company prior to this week.
- February 10, 2013 – The New York Times reports that Dominican customs agency spokesman Abinader Fortunato states that “Dr. Melgen’s contract wrongly leaves screening in the hands of a private company and not a state agency.” He wonders how much influence Menendez and Melgen have had on the United States government’s decision not to donate additional promised port security equipment to the Dominican Republic.
For more on the Department of Justice proceedings against Melgen and Menendez, see Bob Menendez's page.
Connection to Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton
From the NY Post:
The horndog eye surgeon indicted on corruption charges with Sen. Bob Menendez has hosted Bill and Hillary Clinton at a plush vacation getaway in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Salomon Melgen entertained the ex-president and ex-secretary of state, now running for president, an ex-Melgen employee said.
Patricia Goodman, Melgen’s former office administrator and personal assistant, told the Miami Herald in 2013 that the Clintons had vacationed at his villa[, Villa Mehler,] in Casa de Campo, a luxury seaside resort in La Romana. Melgen and his wife, Flor, are big Democratic donors who have supported both Menendez and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Flor Melgen gave Hillary Clinton $4,000 in 2006 and $2,300 in 2008, records show.
Connection to Terry McAuliffe
From the NY Post:
Clinton pal and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a former head of the Democratic National Committee, was also a frequent Melgen guest, Goodman said. “He used to go to Doctor Melgen’s home in Casa de Campo and play golf all the time,” she told the paper.
Salomon Melgen has strong ties to the shipping industry through his port security dealings in the Dominican Republic, mentioned above.