Sen. Bob Menendez charged with taking bribes to help business cronies, Egyptian government

NEW YORK — A federal grand jury in New York indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and his wife, charging the two with bribery in connection with their relationship with three New Jersey businessmen, according to an indictment unsealed Friday.

Federal prosecutors accused the couple of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in cash, gold, a luxury vehicle and home mortgage payments in exchange for using the senator’s position to benefit the businessmen and the government of Egypt. The two were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion.

The three businesspeople were also charged in the indictment.

A lawyer for Menendez, 69, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. David Schertler, a lawyer for Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez, said: “Mrs. Menendez denies any criminal conduct and will vigorously contest these charges in court.” The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office said it would hold a press conference about the charges later Friday.

It is the second time Menendez has been indicted. Menendez went to trial in 2017, resulting in a hung jury. Though prosecutors briefly intended to retry the case, they soon gave up.

The latest indictment of the prominent Democrat gives DOJ a chance to appear politically evenhanded as it faces withering criticism from former President Donald Trump and his allies over the two federal criminal indictments he is under.

The Friday indictment alleges explosive conduct by Menendez. According to prosecutors, he “provided sensitive U.S. Government information and took other steps that secretly aided the Government of Egypt,” as well as pressured an official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to benefit the business of one of the defendants.

Prosecutors also allege Mendendez used his position “to seek to disrupt a criminal investigation and prosecution undertaken by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office” related to another one of the businessmen defendants, Jose Uribe, and his associates. And they say Menendez recommended to the president that he nominate a person to become U.S. Attorney in New Jersey who Menendez “believed could be influenced” by the senator to impact the prosecution of another one of the charged businessmen, Fred Daibes.

During a search of the Menendezes’ New Jersey home in June 2022, federal agents probing the alleged scheme found “over $480,000 in cash — much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe” along with $70,000 in Nadine Menendez’s safe-deposit box, the indictment says.

The indictment — the culmination of years of investigation by federal prosecutors in New York — is the latest legal blow for New Jersey’s senior senator and the powerful chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, who has survived two previous federal investigations.

The first, in 2006, concerned whether Menendez had done favors for a nonprofit that had paid him about $300,000 in rent. Federal authorities eventually dropped that probe.

The second came to a head in 2015, when federal prosecutors in New Jersey brought bribery charges against Menendez, alleging he helped an eye doctor with federal officials in exchange for vacations at the doctor’s Dominican villa, flights on his private jet and campaign donations.

Although Menendez’s trial ended in a hung jury, he was later admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee regarding his conduct with the doctor.

Josh Gerstein contributed reporting.

Source: Politico-Congress

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