Peter Williams could remain silent no longer.
“My duty as a US citizen obligates me to report what I consider to be a grave violation of the most fundamental codes of conduct that a politician of my country must follow. I have first hand information regarding the reiterated participation of Senator Robert Menendez in inappropriate sexual activities with young prostitutes while on vacations in the Dominican Republic.”
That’s the opening line of his email, written 1:02 p.m. Monday April 09, 2012. A torrent followed with increasingly wild, tough-to-prove allegations.
They all started to come to light Tuesday and Wednesday when the FBI raided the South Florida offices of Menendez’s friend and donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, accused in the emails of flying the New Jersey Democrat to the Dominican Republic for the trysts.
Menendez called the claims “fallacious allegations.”
The story has all the makings of a Florida political whodunit: shady donors and operatives and politicians ducking for cover.
It all reads like a mix of true crime, pulp fiction, pornography and a textbook political dirty trick.
Peter Williams is likely a pseudonym. His email account seems dormant. He never delivered the promised testimony, witnesses, photos and videos.
His writing was descriptive, giving the first and last names of some hookers, their phone numbers and addresses. He described one’s “pointy nose” and “big and exciting mouth” who works for a pimp named “Chocolate.”
Another is called “The Honey.” A third: “Minerva.” Two, a Russian and Brazilian, live in Miami.
Miami Herald reporters this week hopped on the cold trail laid out months ago by Williams and determined that some of the women likely existed. An FBI agent said in an email last year that he could “confirm” some of Williams’ info.
But there’s no good evidence right now that the prostitutes were underage or consorted with Menendez. They can’t be found. Prostitution, incidentally, is legal in the Dominican Republic. Underage prostitution isn’t. And U.S. citizens who engage in child-prostitution overseas face long prison sentences here.
Whatever his name is, Williams was right about one thing: Menendez did initially fly for free on Melgen’s CL-600 Challenger jet.
Only after the FBI raid did Menendez publicly admit that he didn’t pay for two of the trips in 2010. So he reimbursed Melgen $58,500 thereby undercutting a looming Senate ethics investigation.
It’s probably one of the few times that money flowed from Menendez to Melgen.
Since 1992, Melgen, his family and his company Vitreo-Retinal Consultants have contributed $1.14 million to various political candidates and committees.
Menendez’s campaign efforts received 53 percent of that money directly or indirectly
Politicians often have donors and hangers-on like Melgen. Sometimes they get the pols in trouble. Consider convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein of Fort Lauderdale or convicted fraudster Alan Mendelsohn of Hollywood, a top-notch ophthalmologist like Melgen.
When Melgen’s Vitreo-Retinal offices in West Palm Beach were raided, FBI agents were joined by inspectors with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which typically investigates Medicare fraud. That probe is parallel to the FBI investigation examining Melgen and Menendez’s ties.