Senator Bob Menendez and wife face bribery charges; Department of Justice seizes gold bars and $500,000
New Jersey’s Democratic Senator, Bob Menendez, has been charged once again with corruption-related offenses, marking the second instance in a decade. Senator Bob Menendez and wife face bribery charges for receiving “substantial bribes” in exchange for his political influence, as detailed in a newly revealed federal indictment.
The alleged bribes include gold, cash, mortgage payments, no-show jobs, and even a luxury vehicle as forms of compensation.
These charges follow a prior set of corruption accusations Senator Menendez faced from the Department of Justice a decade ago. In that earlier case, he had confronted allegations of conspiracy, bribery, and fraud connected to personal favors.
Senator Menendez is currently up for re-election next year, having served in the Senate since 2006. Senate Democratic Caucus rules will require him to step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, though he can stay on the panel.
In response to the indictment, Senator Menendez expressed his strong disapproval. He claimed, “For years, concealed influences have repeatedly attempted to stifle my voice and tarnish my political reputation. Since the leak of this investigation nearly a year ago, an orchestrated campaign of unidentified sources and insinuations has aimed to create an atmosphere of wrongdoing where none exists.”
He further added, “The actions of these prosecutors are glaring. They have distorted the regular operations of a Congressional office. What’s more, not satisfied with making unfounded allegations against me, they have attacked my wife for her long-standing friendships established before she and I even met.”
Senator Menendez had earlier established a legal defense fund, and in April, his wife sold gold bars valued at as much as $400,000, as reported in his most recent financial disclosure.
The Allegations of Corruption
Senator Menendez faces three specific charges, including being part of a bribery conspiracy. This conspiracy involves his wife, Nadine, and three New Jersey associates and businessmen: Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes.
Nadine Menendez’s lawyer has asserted her innocence and stated her intention to contest the federal indictment. Both Senator Menendez and the other defendants are scheduled to appear in court at 10:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
The group is accused of exploiting Senator Menendez’s U.S. senatorial influence for personal gain and Egypt’s benefit.
The indictment reveals that prosecutors allege Senator Menendez sought to influence the selection of the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey to favor one of the business associates and applied pressure on the Department of Agriculture to safeguard a business monopoly held by another contact in Egypt.
In 2019, the Department of Agriculture had formally expressed concerns to Egypt regarding its grant of monopoly rights to Senator Menendez’s contact, Hana, concerning the supply of halal meat to the U.S.
In May 2019, Hana, an Egyptian intelligence official, and others visited Senator Menendez’s office seeking assistance against a U.S. agency. Following the meeting, the group convened for dinner at a Washington, D.C. steakhouse, according to the indictment.
Two days later, Senator Menendez purportedly contacted an Agriculture Department official, urging them to cease opposing Hana’s venture. The indictment details how Senator Menendez reiterated his demand for the USDA to refrain from interfering with IS EG Halal’s monopoly, despite the attempts of “Official-1” to explain the detrimental consequences of the monopoly on U.S. interests.
Seized Evidence: $500,000 and More
According to the indictment, federal agents searched Senator Menendez’s home and safe deposit box in 2022, uncovering almost $500,000 in cash. This included cash stored in envelopes inside jackets bearing Senator Menendez’s name.
Prosecutors say some envelopes had fingerprints or DNA from a contact implicated in bribing the senator.
Federal investigators also found a “luxury vehicle paid for by Jose Uribe” parked in Senator Menendez’s garage. Furthermore, they found home furnishings provided by other business contacts and even gold bars.
Previous Trial and Acquittal
Senator Menendez had previously faced federal charges in 2015, brought forth by prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey. These charges encompassed conspiracy, bribery, and honest services fraud, all related to allegations of abusing his political office.
The allegations included claims that Senator Menendez accepted over $600,000 in political contributions, enjoyed stays in a luxurious hotel suite at the Park Hyatt in Paris, and received free flights on a private jet from a wealthy ophthalmologist, Dr. Salomon Melgen, in exchange for political favors.
Senator Menendez’s corruption trial ended in a November 2017 mistrial as the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision. Both Senator Menendez and Dr. Melgen vehemently denied all charges. After the mistrial, a federal judge acquitted them of charges in 2018, and the Justice Department dropped the rest.