June 18, 2024

In a development that has sent shockwaves through the political landscape, the United States Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York has issued a three-count indictment against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), his wife, Nadine Menendez, and three New Jersey businessmen. The charges involve alleged bribery offenses that occurred between 2018 and 2022.

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The indictment reveals a corrupt relationship that the senator and his wife had with these businessmen, Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes, in which they allegedly accepted substantial bribes. In exchange, the senator is alleged to have used his power and influence as a United States lawmaker to protect and benefit the businessmen.

Damien Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District, detailed the nature of the bribery offenses:

The indictment alleges that through that relationship, the senator and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for Senator 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 Daibes provided bribes in the form of cash, gold, home mortgage payments, a low show, or a no show job for Nadine Menendez, a Mercedes Benz, and other things of value to the senator and his wife.

Williams noted that as a senator, Menendez “cannot compel an agency to act in someone’s favor,” “influence matters involving a private business,” or “get involved in criminal matters or cases.” However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that Menendez “was doing those things for certain people.”

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The indictment alleges that Senator Menendez took several actions as part of this corrupt relationship. First, the indictment alleges that Senator 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. Among other actions, Senator Menendez allegedly provided sensitive, non-public U. S. Government information to Egyptian officials and otherwise took steps to secretly aid the government of Egypt.

Williams continued, delving into further detail about Menendez’s alleged actions:

We also allege that Senator Menendez improperly pressured a senior official at the US. 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.

Second, the indictment alleges that Senator Menendez used his 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.

Third, the indictment alleges that Senator Menendez used his power and influence to try to disrupt a federal prosecution of Daibes in the District of New Jersey in two ways. First, by seeking to install a United States attorney who he thought could be influenced with respect to Daibes. And second, by trying to influence that office to act favorably in Daibes’ case. And as we allege in the indictment, the senator agreed to do these things and use his power in this way because Hana was paying bribes, because Uribe was paying bribes, and because Daibes was paying bribes. Fortunately, the public officials the senator sought to influence did not bend to the pressure. That’s a good thing.

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Williams explained that FBI agents “executed search warrants on the residence and safe deposit box of Senator Menendez and Nadine Menendez in New Jersey,” where they found evidence of the bribes.

When they got there, they discovered approximately $500,000 of cash stuffed into envelopes and closets. Some of the cash was stuffed in the senator’s jacket pockets. Some of the envelopes of cash contained Daibes’ fingerprints, Daibes’ DNA. That’s not all. Agents also discovered a lot of gold, gold that was provided by Daibes and Hana. And the FBI, of course, found the Mercedes Benz that Uribe had provided them.

The items that the FBI uncovered are discussed in the indictment, which I encourage all of you to read carefully. Let’s take a look at just some of the items. So, as you can see here, this is the Mercedes Benz that we allege that Uribe provided as part of the scheme. What you see here are three kilograms of gold. These three kilograms together are worth approximately $150,000. And, of course, here you can see just a fraction of the cash that was uncovered as part of the scheme.

The indictment against the senator, his wife, and businessmen sheds light on an intricate web of alleged bribes and other illegal conduct. If Menendez resigns due to this indictment, the governor of New Jersey would choose his replacement.

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