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Exclusive: Federal Probe Into NJ Sen Menendez Is Widening (Democrats cashing in bigtime) ^ | 1/25/14 | Jonathan Dienst

Posted on 02/15/2014 3:56:43 AM PST by Liz

The federal criminal investigation into Sen. Robert Menendez's dealings w/ convicted Ecuadorian fugitives is broader than previously known. The DOJ is investigating Menendez's efforts on behalf of two fugitive bankers from Ecuador, according to multiple current and former U.S. officials reached by NBC 4 New York.

The criminal investigation is focusing in part on the senator’s ties to Ecuadorian fugitives William and Roberto Isaias, and whether the senator crossed a line in trying to help the two brothers stay in the US. The Isaias brothers have been fugitives from their native Ecuador for more than a decade -- sentenced in absentia for embezzling millions as the bank they ran there was collapsing.

The Isaias brothers now live in Coral Gables, Fla., running several successful businesses, and they have never been charged in the U.S.

But back home in Ecuador, they’re wanted men. Back in the 1990s, outraged Ecuadorians took to the streets demanding their money back after several banks collapsed, including the country’s largest, Filanbanco, which had been run by the Isaias brothers. An auditor’s report in Ecuador found Filanbanco lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

In 2005, U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Kristie Kenney wrote a cable to the State Department saying the Isaias brothers absconded “with $100 million" and "used their ill-gotten wealth to buy safe passage from Ecuador." The ambassador recommended the Isaias brothers be kicked out of the US. But to date, the DOJ says Ecuador’s government, which has been at odds with the U.S. in recent years, has not provided enough evidence to warrant extradition.

"The fact that the Isaias brothers continue to live a life of luxury in the U.S. while their account holders are suffering in Ecuador has been a constant concern between the U.S. and Ecuador since their flight," said Linda Jewell, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador.

In 2010, Ecuador had Interpol issue international arrest warrants.Their lawyer says that the brothers are innocent and are appealing their convictions, and that they did not steal any money and are actually victims of political persecution by Ecuador’s government. “And that is the problem of the Isaiases, that they have committed the crime of being rich in a poor country,” said their attorney, Xavier Castro Munoz.

He says Filanbanco was in fine shape until the government took it over. And he says the justice system in Ecuador is broken and the brothers “will not get justice in Ecuador.” Ecuador has seized many of the Isaias brothers’ assets in that country. But so far, a court in Florida has rejected Ecuador’s efforts to seize assets inside the U.S.

For years the Isaias brothers have been seeking permanent residence in the United States. Officials say they turned to the powerful New Jersey senator for help. Multiple officials confirm Menendez wrote letters and made phone calls to the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department in support of the fugitive brothers.

The former head of the FBI in New Jersey says such letters and calls are not the normal practice."It's shocking,” said Weysan Dun, the former special agent in charge of the FBI’s New Jersey office. “I think most people would know and would believe that it be appropriate to keep your distance from individuals who are convicted of crimes in their homeland."

On April 2, 2012 for example, officials say, Menendez personally wrote high-ranking Homeland Security official Alejandro Mayorkas, asking that the brothers get "full consideration" and that the Department of Homeland Security "expedite its review."

Investigators say they want to know whether the senator attempted to influence immigration officials in 2012 in exchange for campaign donations. A spokeswoman for Menendez said in a statement: "Our office works each year with literally hundreds of individuals and families from across the country who are seeking help with the immigration process. We review each and every request we receive, and if we feel any inquiry is appropriate, we make it. "In this particular case, Sen. Menendez believed the Isaias family had been politically persecuted in Ecuador, including through the confiscation of media outlets they owned which were critical of the government," said the spokeswoman, Tricia Enright. "We are not aware of any inquiry into the senator’s actions on this matter."

Reached by phone, Roberto Isaias said that, as a non-resident of the United States, he cannot make donations to a U.S. political campaign and that he does not have anything to do with any senator or politician. Federal election records show relatives of the Isaias brothers who are residents donated more than $10,000 to the senator’s 2012 campaign. And records show that the family of Roberto Isaias also donated at least $100,000 to the Democratic party in 2012.

Campaign donations could be one area of interest to investigators from the Justice Department, said Scott Fredericksen, an attorney who prosecuted federal corruption cases for the Justice Department. “If the government, when they look at this, can establish that in exchange for donations from citizens not from this country, of gifts, that the senator took official action that benefited them, now, now we're talking about something potentially illegal,” Fredericksen said. So far, authorities have not filed any charges. And legal experts say it can be tough to prove that kind of case.

“For Sen. Menendez, who is chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, to be involved in something that has a foreign component and might raise concerns about the national interest with other countries, this is an incredibly serious matter,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

Krumholz says Menendez’s relationship with Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, a major campaign donor, is also a serious matter. Federal investigators have searched Melgen’s offices twice in connection with an $8 million Medicare billing dispute. Separately, they are looking into whether Menendez improperly advocated for the doctor in that dispute. They are also looking into whether the senator acted improperly to help Melgen with a deal to secure a port security contract in the Dominican Republic.

Menendez has said he did nothing wrong. Menendez said he called Medicare to raise concerns about conflicting guidelines and supported the port security deal because it could help stem the flow of drugs to the U.S. Melgen, too, has denied any wrongdoing and is suing Medicare alleging that the agency has wrongly accused him of overbilling. Last year, Menendez reimbursed Melgen $58,000 after news broke that he took three trips on Melgen’s private jet -- two of them to the luxury resort of Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.

--Donna Mendell, Polly DeFrank, Joseph Valiquette, Richard Esposito, Robert Dembo, Tom Winter, Kevin Monahan and Evelyn Gruber contributed to this story.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs
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Menendez must be sweating bullets----ace WNBC reporter, Jonathan Dienst, did the towering investigation of NJ Sen Robert Torricelli which forced the crook out of office.

Dienst himself has said "....the investigation of Senator Torricelli’s alleged corruption was an extraordinary exercise in journalism; going out and spending about six months on that story working almost non-stop digging and digging, trying to find corroboration to allegations that the senator had an improper relationship with a convicted felon."

" So we were out meeting with merchants, meeting with defense lawyers, meeting with investigators, members of Congress, and meeting with anyone who might have information about the senator’s alleged wrong doing."

"We obtained documents, tapes and materials and it was at a very important time. The election was coming up, the balance of power weighed in the balance and the fact that we were able to show and highlight some of the senator’s activities so that the voters knew. That was an incredible story to be a part of."

1 posted on 02/15/2014 3:56:43 AM PST by Liz
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To: Liz

Gee..Chrisie may yet get to appoint a US senator

2 posted on 02/15/2014 4:08:44 AM PST by ken5050 (This space available cheap...)
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To: ken5050

Heh-——could very well be.

3 posted on 02/15/2014 4:10:28 AM PST by Liz
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To: Liz

What party does Sen Menendez belong to? I read that whole article and I must have missed it. ;^)

4 posted on 02/15/2014 4:10:36 AM PST by saganite (What happens to taglines? Is there a termination date?)
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To: saganite

Just assume it’s about a senator from NJ so it must be a democrat.

5 posted on 02/15/2014 4:14:29 AM PST by goldi
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To: goldi

Like the governor?

6 posted on 02/15/2014 4:19:55 AM PST by saganite (What happens to taglines? Is there a termination date?)
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To: Liz
“Reached by phone, Roberto Isaias said that, as a non-resident of the United States, he cannot make donations to a U.S. political campaign”.
But bribes? Bribes are how things get done here in the good old US of A.

There I finished Isaias’ statement for him.

7 posted on 02/15/2014 4:25:16 AM PST by Tupelo (I am feeling more like Philip Nolan every day)
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To: All
FACTS ON FILE --Menendez, his Dominican crony, Dr Meglen, and Dominican Republic govt honchos, have a sub rosa deal that generates hundreds of millions of dollars.

Menendez crassly used tax-paid US govt resources, govt authority, and his privileged position, to convene a special hearing on the insider port deal---Menendez was the only Senator present but the hearing had the full force of the US govt. Self-serving Menendez dragged US officials up to the Hill for questioning---pressuring US officials about why the Dominican port deal had not gone through.

The Times quotes Menendez at the hearing: "You have another company (his deal) that has 'American investors' that is seeking to - has a contract actually given to it by the - kind of ratified by the Dominican Congress----to do X-ray of all of the cargo that goes through the ports, which have been problematic and for which in the past narcotics have been i ncluded in those cargo," the senator said. Menendez reinforced his authority by later phoning US officials at the Depts of State and Commerce.


FACTS ON FILE--Obama named Menendez his point man for amnesty. Menendez has effectively exposed rampant Third World male/female child prostitution by using their services. The more cynical among us see the push for amnesty concealing a dark, corrupt hidden agenda. Underage males/females cannot legally consent to sex - therefore it is considered Statuatory Rape in civilized countries. That would change w/ amnesty.


FACTS MENENDEZ DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC--a Caribbean nation notorious for corrupt governments and strong-arm dictators. Despite US politicans' fondness for the "amenities" at its posh resorts and celebrities relaxing at posh villas spending big bucks there, the DR has no safety net or state-sponsored job creation for its largely impoverished citizenry.

The one million Dominican citizens currently living illegally in the US send home about a billion US dollars annually---which is considered by the corrupt do-nothing DR govt to be a major source of state revenue. A steady exodus leaves for US shores lured by the endless US gravy train.


TAXPAYERS DEMAND TO KNOW THE SCOPE AND DIMENSION OF FINANCIAL INVOLVEMENT CAPITOL HILL HAS W/ FOREIGN GOVTS. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus should be scrutinized WRT its business connections with foreign governments.

THESE "IMPOVERISHED" COUNTRIES CURRENTLY HAVE ORGANIZED PRESSURE GROUPS LYING IN WAIT TO SUCK UP US TAX DOLLARS: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico (stateside)l Salvador, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela.

8 posted on 02/15/2014 4:25:33 AM PST by Liz
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To: All
MENENDEZ UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL Way back in 2006, Sen Menendez absconded to his Florida donor pal's getaway in the swanky Casa de Campo Dominican Republic resort---Booby was fleeing from nosey US reporters, but he happily cooperated with The Dominican daily, Listin Diario.

On Aug. 22, 2006, Diario published a photo captioned: “Bob Menéndez, the senator from New Jersey, gave an interview (in Spanish) to Listin Diario at the residence of his donor---eye Doctor Salomón Melgen (a Florida resident), at Casa de Campo.”


STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE 2006 was a banner year for Booby Menendez: the Congressman had just become a US Senator. But Menendez was annoyed b/c he was being investigated in a rent-for-influence deal by the US Attorney. As landlord for a Newark non-profit, Menendez collected more than $300,000 in rent. As a Congressman, he helped the agency get federal grants.

IN POLITICS ONE HAND WASHES THE OTHER Employees of the N/P agency contributed $33,450 to Menendez’s campaigns. When a furor erupted, Menendez absconded to the Dominican Republic and gave interviews there in Spanish. He returned here when the furor died down.

NOT TO WORRY The lease stated the n/p agency’s ability to pay was dependent on the agency getting certain federal/state funding. Menendez "said" he had permission from Mark Davis of the House Ethics Committee in 1994 before entering the lease. But a Capitol Hill publication said Davis didn’t work there at that juncture. And when Menendez's self-serving deal was outed, Mr Davis was incommunicado---he was a corpus delecti.

Booby had escaped unscathed.....ole.


FAST FORWARD TO TODAY Booby hired a Peruvian illegal who was a registered sex offender to work in his DC office as a "volunteer".......but nobody could say who paid the guy's rent, transportation costs, meals, etc.....

Booby cavorted w/ underage Dominican prostitutes who complained he shorted them on the price.

Menendez used his position and US govt authority and OUR resources to discourage plans by the United States government to donate port security equipment to the Dominican Republic to detect drug cargo.

Menendez cited concern that the advanced screening gear might undermine efforts by a private company — a company run by Menendez's major campaign contributor---a friend w/ dual residences in Miami and the Dominican Republic...Dr Melgen.

Menendez's intervention with the Department of Homeland Security came even though Mr. Menendez has publicly chastised the Obama administration for not doing more to combat the surging drug traffic moving through Dominican ports.

And it came shortly after the senator’s Miami friend, Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, arranged to meet with a senior State Dept official, accompanied by a former aide to Mr. a related push to protect his company's port security contract, which is worth as much as $500 million over 20 years.

Menendez has only acknowledged three Dominican visits--all in 2010--then belatedly paid Melgen $58,500 in January 2013 as reimbursement for two trips. The DSSC, which he then-headed, paid for the third, part of a fundraising swing.


The dreaded "Christie appointee" is the only thing standing between Menendez and a celibate life as a civilian in a tenement in downtown Hudson County. Legacy-obsessed Obama needs Menendez in the Senate (and latino votes) to takeover the US govt. Upsetting the taco truck is NOT an option.

9 posted on 02/15/2014 4:30:55 AM PST by Liz
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To: Liz

——An auditor’s report in Ecuador——

Which means there is honesty in Ecuador where they have auditors. Whereas, in America, the Soylendra money is just gone with no audit or evidence at all where it went

The Democrat Party is a criminal enterprise

Barack Obama is the Prince of Thieves

10 posted on 02/15/2014 4:32:28 AM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... History is a process, not an event)
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To: saganite

More like the former governor Corzine.

11 posted on 02/15/2014 4:35:07 AM PST by goldi
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To: Tupelo
Speaking of bribes. posted an exclusive
photo the White House does not want you to see.

A beaming Obama w/ Dr Melgen at his side.

Floridian Dr Melgen (under investigation for govt fraud)
was co-hosting a 2009 fundraiser for Democrats' DSCC
committee then-headed by NJ's Menendez.

12 posted on 02/15/2014 4:36:10 AM PST by Liz
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To: All
Menendez donor reveals lobbying effort — 4 years late

A company controlled by Floridian Dr Solomon Melgen the Democratic donor in the middle of the Robert Menendez controversy this week revealed that it spent as much as $60,000 on previously undisclosed lobbying.

Salomon Melgen, a wealthy South Florida ophthalmologist and investor, has been fighting the federal government’s 2008 finding that his eye care company — Vitreo-Retinal Consultants — overbilled Medicare by $8.9 million. And he’s gotten help in that effort from his close friend Menendez, a Democratic senator from New Jersey.

Melgen’s lawyers had claimed he never hired a lobbyist for himself or his business interests and there were no mandatory reports on record detailing lobbying by Vitreo-Retinal Consultants — until now.

Paperwork filed Monday indicates that Alan Reider, a partner at the powerful law and lobbying firm Arnold & Porter, started lobbying the Senate in June 2009 for “Vitreo-Retinal Consultants Eye Center” on “issues related to Medicare reimbursement.”

In 2009 and 2012, the West Palm Beach, Fla-based company spent between $50,000 and $59,998, according to Monday’s filings, which indicate that it stopped its lobbying at the end of both years.

The retroactive registration comes amid escalating federal investigations into Melgen’s dealings with the Department of Health and Human Services, as well his efforts to get the United States government to intervene on his behalf in a contract dispute with the Dominican government, and increasingly suspect prostitution allegations involving him and Menendez.

As Melgen’s legal worries have mounted, he’s retained a top white-collar criminal defense lawyer from Arnold & Porter, Kirk Ogrosky. Melgen has also hired a big-time New York crisis communications firm, Kekst and Co.

The failure to file reports as Vitreo-Retinal Consultants was doing its lobbying could have been an oversight, said Sarah Bryner, research director at the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics. “If a group filed a 2009 registration in 2012, it is possible that the organization wasn’t aware of the disclosure requirements, but has recently been informed,” she said.

Neither Ogrosky, nor Melgen’s spokesman, Reider or Menendez’s office responded to questions Wednesday morning about the lobbying activity. Anyone who qualifies as a lobbyist is required to disclose their lobbying work — and roughly how much they’re being paid for it — within 45 days of making a “lobbying contact” with more than one federal official, according to the Lobbying Disclosure Act. Those who “knowingly” violate it are subject to a maximum fine of $200,000.

The retroactive 2009 registration date places Reider’s initial lobbying activity in the same year that Menendez complained to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that its $8.9 million ruling against Melgen was unfair, according to an account Menendez’s office provided to The Washington Post. It also said that Menendez last year met again with the agency to question its findings.

Over the years, Melgen, his companies and family contributed nearly $1 million to Menendez’s campaigns and committees that could help it. That includes $700,000 donated last year by Vitreo-Retinal Consultants to the since-renamed Majority PAC super PAC, which spent $582,500 supporting Menendez’s 2012 election bid.

Federal Election Commission records also show that Menendez’s campaign, which has benefited from fundraisers hosted by Melgen, in 2012 received $1,000 from Reider and $7,000 from Arnold & Porter’s PAC.

Menendez also has vacationed frequently with Melgen and his wife at their Dominican Republic mansion, while Melgen has regularly visited the senator, now the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, at his home in New Jersey.

Earlier this year, Menendez paid $58,500 to reimburse Melgen for the cost of two previously undisclosed trips on the donor’s plane to the Dominican Republic, which the Senate Ethics Committee is examining.

13 posted on 02/15/2014 4:47:33 AM PST by Liz
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To: Liz

If this were a GOP Senator, the sharks would be circling non-stop.

Thanks for reporting this. Menendez is as sleazy as they come and needs to go. Who knows if he can last four more years? With Christie re-elected, it’s going to be a lot harder to run out the clock.

14 posted on 02/15/2014 4:48:45 AM PST by randita
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To: Clintonfatigued

Lo and behold, an actual investigative report by the DBM.

15 posted on 02/15/2014 4:49:37 AM PST by randita
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To: All
POLITICO revealed that Dr Melgen assiduously courted President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but that Melgen was unhappy with the return on his campaign donation "investments."

After meeting briefly with Obama at a 2010 fundraiser that Dr Melgen paid $30,400 to co-host, the eye doctor complained that “Obama didn’t even give him the time of day,” according to a source who travels in the same Miami political circles as Melgen.

The source said Melgen also expressed frustration that he couldn’t take his concerns about his questionable Medicare billing practices directly to Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius.

“He was ranting about HHS and Sebelius not understanding and not wanting to listen to him and not giving him a hearing,” said the source, who did not want to be identified WRT revealing the contents of private conversations.

Pic the White House does not want you to see.

A beaming Obama w/ Dr Melgen at his side.

Melgen (under investigation for govt fraud) paid
$30,400 for the privilege of co-hosting a 2009 fundraiser
for Democrats' DSCC committee then-headed by NJ's Menendez.

16 posted on 02/15/2014 4:55:01 AM PST by Liz
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To: Liz
NOTHING is going to happen to's the "Just Us" Dept and he's a Democrat.

Now, Dinesh will be in PRISON for YEARS, but NO DEMOCRAT will, no matter what they do!!

17 posted on 02/15/2014 4:58:07 AM PST by Ann Archy (Abortion......the Human Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: saganite
Yeah I did not find it either and even had a hard time finding it w/ a right click/search. It's not prominently mentioned until I tried good ole wikipedia:

Robert "Bob" Menendez (born January 1, 1954) is the senior United States Senator from New Jersey. He is a member of the Democratic party.

18 posted on 02/15/2014 5:44:53 AM PST by Principled
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To: Liz

Soros, a Hungarian citizen, spends millions of democrat elections through covert channels each year. Why has no one questioned that?

19 posted on 02/15/2014 5:50:44 AM PST by realcleanguy
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To: realcleanguy

Soros has been a US citizen since 1961.

20 posted on 02/15/2014 5:54:10 AM PST by jjotto ("Ya could look it up!")
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