According to prosecutors, when Sen. Bob Mendendez wasn’t intervening in multi-million-dollar billing disputes with the government on behalf of his wealthy friend and benefactor Dr. Salomon Melgen, who was convicted of Medicare fraud earlier this year, the Democrat was flying on the wealthy eye doctor’s private plane or staying at his exclusive villa on a private beach in the Caribbean.
The private villa, at the exclusive Casa del Campo resort in the Dominican Republic, is equipped with a golf course that runs along the ocean, polo fields, a private marina, luxurious spa amenities, and hunting grounds where groundskeepers bred pheasants for guests to shoot, according to its website and testimony from the resort’s president, Andres Pichardo Rosenberg, on Monday.
Here are some more photos of the Casa del Campo, via its website and screen grabs of promotional videos.
Here’s a promotional video showcasing the resort’s amenities, which include 1,850 private homes, some of which are worth more than $10 million. Rosenburg estimated homes in Melgen’s neighborhood, where Menendez stayed, are worth up to $2.5 million, according to the New York Post.
CNN obtained photos of the villa and private plane Melgen owned, which the defense showed the jury during opening statements at the start of the trial earlier this month. The defense is portraying the vacation spot as a humble abode, not a multi-million-dollar luxury getaway.
Menendez and Melgen are facing a combined 18 counts of bribery and fraud, but both men say they are innocent. A pilot who flew the wealthy eye doctor’s plane testified last week that Menendez was such a frequent passenger that he knew the senator’s favorite brand of bottled water.
Immediately after the FBI raided Melgen’s offices in 2013, the eye doctor’s son-in-law emailed Federal Aviation Administration authorities in an attempt to block authorities from viewing the plane’s flight records, which show the plane leaving from New Jersey and going to the vacation home in the Caribbean, an FAA official testified on Monday.
A video with arial drone footage shows the 245-acre private hunting grounds where guests can shoot.
Another video highlights views of the golf course, which the site brags is No. 1 in the Caribbean.
The defense grew frustrated at the prosecution’s line of questioning earlier this week.
“Are we going to find out how much it cost to take a massage he never took?” Menendez’s attorney Abbe Lowell shot back when the prosecution asked Rosenburg to detail the spa amenities at Casa del Campo.
Prosecutors allege Menendez intervened in a $8.9 million billing dispute between the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Florida eye doctor. The Democratic senator met with top CMS officials just six days after Melgen contributed $300,000 to the senator’s political action committee. Menendez also allegedly intervened to help his married friend’s girlfriends obtain U.S. visas. The defense says the two men were friends and the luxury trips were nothing more than gifts between friends.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could choose a Republican to replace Menendez if his seat becomes vacant, which would shift the politics of the U.S. Senate.