The senior government official, Marino Vinicio Castillo, a longtime friend of Melgen’s family, said on his public affairs program, La Respuesta, that the FBI questioning was done without a court order or local official present. The maids did not have lawyers with them.
A spokesman for the FBI’s Miami field office declined to comment on the existence of an investigation or the maids’ complaint.
“However, in general, if anyone has a grievance about any of our employees, they can contact any FBI field office to register a complaint,” FBI special agent Mike Leverock said.
By policy, the FBI has no authority to conduct investigations in a foreign country without the approval of the host government. In recent history, the Dominican Republic has been extremely helpful to U.S. law enforcement agencies.
Menendez’s office declined to comment for this story. Last month, his office was quick to highlight the police findings about the alleged prostitutes being paid to lie, saying the evidence “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.”
Menendez continues to face questions about wielding political influence to help Melgen’s Dominican business interests, including a port security contract, and the doctor’s multimillion-dollar billing disputes with Medicare, the U.S. healthcare program. A Miami federal grand jury, directed by the Justice Department, is investigating those claims.
Meanwhile, agents with the FBI and Health and Human Services Department are investigating whether the West Palm Beach eye doctor broke the law when he charged Medicare to treat patients for services that may have been unnecessary.
The allegations about the sex parties at Melgen’s Casa de Campo residence were initiated in anonymous emails by a tipster going by the name “Peter Williams.” Those claims fueled the FBI’s investigation.
Melgen’s defense attorney, Kirk Ogrosky, a former federal prosecutor now with the Washington, D.C., law firm, Arnold & Porter, condemned the FBI’s handling of the interrogation of his client’s two Dominican housekeepers.
“The FBI’s tactics in the Dominican Republic are not only illegal, but are also an appalling misuse of authority,” Ogrosky said in an interview Tuesday.