Sen. Bob Menendez, DN.J., and his wife Nadine Menendez arrived at the federal courthouse in Manhattan on Wednesday for their arraignment on federal corruption charges.
Co-defendant Fred Daibes — a New Jersey real estate developer and founder of a New Jersey-based bank that was a longtime campaign fundraiser for Menendez — also arrived at the New York City courthouse Wednesday morning. , maneuvering through a crowd of photographers without asking. .
Jose Uribe, who was also charged in the alleged years-long bribery scheme involving the senator, is also expected at the arraignment hearing on Wednesday.
Uribe, a New Jersey businessman who worked in trucking and insurance, previously had his broker’s license revoked for fraud.
EGYPTIAN BUSINESSMAN ALLEGED TO BRIBE BOB MENENDEZ, ARRESTED AT AIRPORT, GIVEN $5M BOND
Prosecutors say Nadine Menendez played a key role in collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes from three New Jersey businessmen who sought help from the powerful lawmaker. An attorney for Nadine Menendez said she also denies the allegations and will fight the charges, according to the Associated Press.
A fifth suspected co-conspirator, Wael Hana, another New Jersey businessman of Egyptian origin, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty in the afternoon before a federal judge granted him of release on a $5 million personal recognizance bond under the conditions that he surrender his passport and wear GPS monitoring.
The FBI said agents found nearly $480,000 in cash, much of it hidden in clothes and closets, as well as more than $100,000 in gold bars and a Mercedez-Benz convertible allegedly given to the couple as bribes in search of The New Jersey home that Menendez, 69, shares with his wife.
This is the second corruption case in a decade against Menendez, whose last trial involving various allegations ended with jurors failing to reach a verdict in 2017.
Fellow New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker on Tuesday joined calls for Menendez to resign, saying in a statement that the indictment contained “shocking allegations of corruption and specific, disturbing details of wrongdoing.” About half of Senate Democrats say Menendez should step down, including some running for re-election next year.
Hana allegedly helped arrange meetings and dinners between Menendez, his wife, Nadine, and Egyptian military and intelligence officials.
Prosecutors also said Hana promised to put Menendez’s wife on her company’s payroll in a low-or-no-show job in exchange for Menendez using his influential position to facilitate foreign military sales and financing. in Egypt. The indictment alleges that Hana also paid $23,000 for her home mortgage, wrote a $30,000 check to her consulting company, pledged her money envelopes, sent her exercise equipment and bought some of gold bars found in the couple’s home.
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Federal prosecutors also alleged that Menendez recommended that President Biden appointed a US Attorney for the District of New Jersey whom the senator believed he could influence in connection with Daibes and took additional actions intended to disrupt a criminal investigation related to Uribe and his associates.
In his first public remarks since the indictment, Menendez said Monday that the money found in his home had been taken from his personal savings accounts over the years and kept for emergencies. One of the money-filled envelopes found at his home, however, contained Daibes’ DNA and was marked with the real estate developer’s return address, according to prosecutors.
The indictment alleges Menendez’s repeated actions to benefit Egypt, despite the US government’s skepticism over the country’s human rights record that in recent years has prompted Congress to impose restrictions on aid . Prosecutors, who detailed meetings and dinners between Menendez and Egyptian officials, said Menendez provided sensitive U.S. government information to Egyptian officials and wrote a letter to fellow senators encouraging them to withhold $300 million in aid to Egypt, one of the top recipients of US military support.
Prosecutors also accuse Menendez of pressuring a US agriculture official to drop opposition to a lucrative deal that gave Hana’s company a monopoly on certifying that imported meat meets religious halal standards.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.