Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) denies federal allegations that he “and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes” from New Jersey businessmen in exchange for “using his power and influence to protect and enrich” them “and to benefit the government of Egypt.”
In response to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s 39-page indictment brought against him, the three businessmen and the senator’s wife, Nadine, Menendez released a lengthy statement via an emailed press release stating he is the target of a “smear campaign” and that the prosecutors’ “excesses” are clear:
Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists.
The excesses of these prosecutors is apparent. They have misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office. On top of that, not content with making false claims against me, they have attacked my wife for the longstanding friendships she had before she and I even met.
Menendez pointed to his heritage as a Latino American as what he suspects to be the motivation behind the alleged “campaign” against him and later called the prosecution’s accusations “baseless”:
Some wild details in the Menendez indictment – found in the home:
“Over $480,000 in cash—much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe—along with over $70,000 in NADINE MENENDEZ’s safe deposit box… as well as over $100,000 worth of gold bars” pic.twitter.com/md5zU5ahzB
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) September 22, 2023
“Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator and serve with honor and distinction,” he said. “Even worse, they see me as an obstacle in the way of their broader political goals.”
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Notably, Menendez is being prosecuted by President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice (DOJ).
Menendez and his wife are each charged with three separate counts, including Conspiracy to Commit Bribery, Conspiracy to Commit Honest Service Fraud, and Conspiracy to Commit Extortion Under Color of Official Right, according to the indictment. Their codefendants – New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes – each face charges of Conspiracy to Commit Bribery and conspiracy to Commit Honest Service Fraud for their allegedly corrupt relationship with the Menendezes.
Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, laid out allegations against the defendants late Friday morning during a press conference:
The indictment alleges that through that relationship, the senator and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for Sen. Menendez using his power and influence, to protect and to enrich those businessmen and to benefit the government of Egypt. The indictment alleges that Hana, Uribe, and Dabies provided bribes in the form of cash, gold, home mortgage payments, a low-show or no-show job for Nadine Menendez, a Mercedes Benz and other things of value to the senator and his wife.
In June 2022, federal agents searched Menendez’s home and his and his wife’s safe deposit box in New Jersey, per the indictment. Williams noted nearly half a million dollars in cash, gold, and the Mercedes Benz in question were located at his property:
When they got there, they discovered approximately $500,000 of cash stuffed into envelopes in closets. Some of the cash was stuffed in the senator’s jacket pockets. Some of the cash, some of the envelopes of cash, contained Daibes’s fingerprints, Daibes’s DNA. That’s not all. Agents also discovered a lot of gold, gold that was provided by Daibes and Hanna, and the FBI of course found the Mercedes Benz that Uribe had provided them.
The gold bars discovered were valued at more than $100,000, according to prosecutors, while Nadine Menendez’s safety deposit allegedly housed $70,000 in cash.
As part of the alleged conspiracy, “Menendez used his power and influence, including his leadership role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to benefit the government of Egypt in various ways,” Williams said, continuing:
Among other actions, Sen. Menendez allegedly provided sensitive, nonpublic U.S. government information to Egyptian officials and otherwise took steps to secretly aid the government of Egypt. We also allege that Sen. Menendez improperly pressured a senior official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect a lucrative monopoly that the government of Egypt had awarded to Hana, a lucrative monopoly that Hana then used to fund certain bribe payments.
Moreover, Menendez is accused of using “power and influence to try to disrupt a criminal investigation and prosecution undertaken by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office related to an associate and a relative of Uribe,” in addition to attempting “to disrupt a federal prosecution of Daibes in the district of New Jersey,” Williams said.
The senator was previously indicted on corruption charges in 2015, but the case resulted in a mistrial.
“They wrote these charges as they wanted; the facts are not as presented. Prosecutors did that the last time and look what a trial demonstrates,” Menendez contended on Friday. “People should remember that before accepting the prosecutor’s version.”
The case is the United States of America v. Menendez, No. 23 CRIM 490, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.