Police: 3 lied in accusing Menendez

Posted: March 20, 2013

Three Dominican women were paid to lie about having sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and a close friend, Dominican police said Monday, citing statements from the women and other evidence.

At a news conference in the Dominican Republic, police said they had determined the women were paid hundreds of dollars by a local lawyer to make the false claims in videotaped interviews. The women said their recorded statements, taped in a Dominican shopping mall in La Romana province, were read from a script provided by a lawyer.

The announcement by police came two weeks after Dominican authorities released an affidavit from one of the escorts saying she had been paid to appear on a video and claim that she had sex for money with Menendez. The woman, Nexis de los Santos Santana, said the claims were false and that she had never met either the senator or his friend and political donor, Salomon Melgen, according to court documents and interviews.

Allegations that Menendez patronized prostitutes in the Dominican Republic began circulating last year, while he was running for reelection, and resurfaced in recent weeks, after he became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The videotaped claims of two women, made with their faces obscured, were posted last fall on the conservative website the Daily Caller. The site reported that "the two women said they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic. . . . They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100."

According to Dominican police, the taping was arranged by lawyer Melanio Figueroa, who was accompanied by a foreign-looking man, and began in a hotel but moved to a shopping mall to get a better wireless signal.

Figueroa was to be questioned about the taping by Dominican authorities on Tuesday. He could not be reached for comment.

De los Santos and another woman were paid about $400 each to appear on the videotape, and a third woman was paid about $300, police said.

In a statement Monday, Menendez spokeswoman Tricia Enright welcomed the announcement.

"The evidence released today by Dominican law enforcement authorities proves what we have said all along: that the smear campaign against Senator Menendez is based on lies, lies we now know were paid for by interests whose identities have not yet been fully disclosed," Enright said.

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