Posts Tagged ‘helping with the educational needs of disadvantaged persons’

How Menendez ‘conspired’ to import rich donor’s babes

April 19, 2015

.

By Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein

They are the models who could bring down a senator.

Sen. Robert Menendez mobilized his staff to secure a visa for a Brazilian actress who posed nude on the cover of Sexy magazine; he stepped up for a sultry Ukrainian student who wanted a plastic-surgery consult; and he directed a staff member to “call Ambassador asap” in order to reverse a visa denial to a 22-year-old Dominican model.

The young women were all paramours of Dr. Salomon Melgen, 60, a married eye doctor and one of Menendez’s biggest donors, prosecutors charge.

The New Jersey Democrat’s efforts on behalf of Melgen’s lovers came to light in a 68-page indictment against the two men unsealed this month.

Menendez is accused of using his power and influence to benefit Melgen in exchange for almost $1 million in gifts and campaign contributions.

If convicted, Menendez faces up to 15 years in prison on each of eight bribery counts alone. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

The senator is also accused of trying to influence a State Department official on Melgen’s behalf in a dispute involving one of the doctor’s business interests in the Dominican Republic.

Prosecutors also say Menendez and his staff tried to help Melgen in a Medicare billing conflict.

Melgen was charged with Medicaid fraud last week in a separate 76-count indictment.

But the strangest aspect of the government’s case focuses on Menendez’s Herculean efforts to build Melgen’s harem.

No fewer than six Senate staffers acted with a sense of urgency to get the job done.

The Brazilian

The Brazilian actress — Juliana Lopes Leite, now 34 and a lawyer in Miami — admitted to The Post that she knew Melgen, but declined to comment further.

Menendez, 61, was aware that Lopes Leite was one of Melgen’s girlfriends when he went to bat for her, the indictment charges.

The men have been pals since 1993, when they met at a political fund-raiser shortly after Menendez won his first term in the House. The senator often flew on Melgen’s private plane, sometimes bringing a guest to the doctor’s vacation villa in the posh Dominican Republic resort of Casa de Campo.

When the doctor asked for a ­favor, Menendez jumped.

On July 24, 2008, Menendez ­directed his senior policy adviser, Mark Lopes, to e-mail a high-ranking official at the State ­Department to give “careful consideration” to the visa application of a Brazilian woman — described as an actress, lawyer and model — who wanted to come to the United States on a student visa, legal papers charge.

The woman — identified only as “Girlfriend 1” in the indictment — had applied to study law at the University of Miami.

Lopes wrote that Girlfriend 1, “(no relation to me) has her visa application appointment in Brasilia, Brazil, tomorrow . . . Sen. Menendez would like to advocate unconditionally for Dr. Melgen and encourage careful consideration of [Girlfriend 1]’s visa application.”

The State Department responded within hours, and the woman got her visa the following day.

“The senator very much appreciates your help,” Lopes wrote to the State Department official.

Lopes Leite, who is from Brasilia, received a law degree from the University of Miami in 2010.

By the time the brunette arrived in the United States, she had been a star in Brazil, appearing on the reality show “Big Brother Brasil” and modeling nude in at least two magazines. She left her TV career in 2007 to study law in Brazil, according to an interview in one of the country’s largest daily newspapers.

That was the same year Lopes Leite, then 27, started a romantic relationship with Melgen, then 53, according to court papers.

Lopes Leite met the senator several times in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Spain and at Melgen’s luxury villa in the Dominican Republic, legal papers say.

Lopes Leite said she used the money from her nude photo shoots to partially fund her studies in Miami. Part of her tuition was also paid by Melgen’s nonprofit foundation, according to the indictment.

Tax filings for the foundation, whose self-described purpose is “helping with the educational needs of disadvantaged persons,” show that in 2009, it shelled out $39,961 to pay ­tuition for two students at the University of Miami.

The daughter of a New Jersey woman romantically linked to Menendez also attended the school at that time.

Around the same time Melgen became involved with Lopes Leite, he was having a “romantic relationship” with a Ukrainian woman, described by prosecutors as an actress and model living in Spain, and labeled “Girlfriend 3.”

Read the rest:

http://nypost.com/2015/04/18/how-menendez-conspired-to-import-rich-donors-babes/

Advertisements