SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic –Three women who said they recorded interviews last year claiming they were paid to have sex with US Senator Robert Menendez have admitted to investigators that they were paid to make the claims and don’t know the senator, Dominican police said today.
The women told police that a Dominican lawyer, Melanio Figueroa, paid them each between $300 and $400 to record the interviews last October, National Police spokesman Gen. Máximo Báez Aybar said in a press conference.
Two of those interviews might have been published by conservative news website The Daily Caller just before the November elections. The women, whose faces were blurred out to conceal their identity, claimed to have been paid as escorts for sex with a man named “Bob.”
The accusations along with other claims that later surfaced helped enmesh Menendez and his friend and political benefactor Salomón Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, in scandal.
Both men have denied the accusations with Menendez, a New Jersey democrat, referring to them “nameless, faceless, anonymous allegations.”
Some of the claims, including the use of underage prostitutes, were also made in anonymous emails that launched an FBI investigation, which appears over. The women in these videos don't appear to match the description of many of the women in the emails from a shadowy tipster, who suggested in one email to the FBI that he had nothing to do with the women in the Daily Caller video.
Police said had yet to determine Figueroa’s motives. He is
wanted for questioning, Báez said. No arrests have been made in the case.
A third player in the case: Melgen's cousin, Vinicio Castillo Semán, accused in anonymous emails of improprieties with Menendez and Melgen. He not only denied wrongdoing, he pressed this case against Figueroa.
Castillo made one of the women's affidavits public and has held press conferences to charge that they're the victim of a conspiracy. Castillo's family wields great power in the Dominican Republic; he's named after his father, who is the nation's drug czar and is Melgen's uncle.