Doctor Tied to Menendez Pleads Not Guilty

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -

A Florida doctor charged with corruption alongside New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez pleaded not guilty Thursday to allegations that he oversaw a Medicare fraud of as much as $190 million.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Hopkins ordered Dr. Salomon Melgen, 60, to remain behind bars after prosecutors argued that he was a flight risk. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Bell said Melgen has access to “enormous amounts of cash,” not to mention homes and business interests in his native Dominican Republic, connections to government officials on the island, a private plane and a waterfront Florida estate, complete with boat, that could ease him fleeing. She said a century-old extradition agreement with the Dominican Republic would not apply in health care fraud.

“He could easily flee to the Dominican Republic or to any other country for that matter,” Bell said.

Melgen is accused of falsely diagnosing patients and then performing unnecessary and costly procedures.