PBC eye doctor Salomon Melgen needs $2 million more to pay defense team

Prohibited by court order from tapping into his fortune, Palm Beach County ophthalmologist Dr. Salomon Melgen is running out of money to pay lawyers to represent him on charges that he bilked Medicare out of as much as $108 million.

Dr. Salomon Melgen exits the Palm Beach County jail with his wife Flor, left, and daughter, Melissa, right, in July. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Dr. Salomon Melgen leaves the Palm Beach County jail with his wife Flor, left, and daughter, Melissa, right, in July 2015. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

In court papers filed this week, Melgen’s lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra to let the physician use $2 million to pay mounting legal bills which they described as “substantial.”

In addition to facing 76 counts of health-care fraud and related charges in West Palm Beach, Melgen is charged in New Jersey with his longtime friend, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, in connection with what federal prosecutors describe as a mutually beneficial bribery scheme. He is also continuing to challenge the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services about his use of a single vial of Lucentis to treat multiple patients for macular degeneration – a practice known as “multi-dosing.”

“These are three complex and highly contested cases involving extensive motion practice and briefing,” his attorney Matthew Menchel and Kirk Ogrosky wrote, explaining their client’s need for cash.

With federal prosecutors describing the 61-year-old native of the Dominican Republic as a flight risk, U.S. Magistrate James Hopkins last year made sure Melgen couldn’t get his hands on his money, boats or private jet before allowing him to be released from jail. Hopkins ordered him and his family to post a whopping $18 million bond package. To assure his cash was off-limits, Hopkins appointed an escrow agent to pay his personal expenses, including his $2.3 million waterfront home in Captain’s Key near Juno Beach.

In making the request, Menchel and Ogrosky emphasized that Melgen, who treated hundreds of primarily elderly patients at eye clinics in West Palm Beach, Wellington, Delray Beach and Port St. Lucie, won’t have access to the $2 million. It will be paid directly into one of the lawyer’s trust accounts, they said.

“Releasing funds for the purpose of allowing him to pay counsel will not alter his incentives for appearing at trial, because the released funds will not be available for Dr. Melgen’s personal use,” they wrote.


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