September 22, 2023
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife were indicted Friday for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for political influence benefitting three businessmen and the Egyptian government.
The Democrat from New Jersey, 69, and his wife, Nadine, allegedly took cash, gold bars, mortgage payments and a luxury car, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan said. When federal agents raided the couple's home in June 2022, they allegedly found more than $480,000 in cash hidden in envelopes, clothing, closets and a safe. Another $70,000 was found in a safety deposit box, prosecutors said.
The gold bars amounted to 81.5 ounces, which is the equivalent of about $155,000 at current prices.
The indictment alleges these bribes were made by businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes from at least 2018 to 2022. Some of the envelopes found at the senator's home contained the fingerprints of Daibes and his driver, prosecutors said.
Daibes is a real estate investor based in Edgewater, New Jersey who pleaded guilty in a bank fraud scheme last year, the New York Times reported. The plea agreement did not call for prison time and he still has not been sentenced in that case. Uribe is a former insurance agent from Union City, New Jersey.
Hana, a U.S. citizen born in Egypt, has close ties to Nadine Menendez and began operating a halal meat certfication company in New Jersey in 2019, the Times reported. In 2020, his company received Egypt's sole authorization to certify that halal meat imported from anywhere in the world had been prepared according to Islamic law.
The indictment also accuses Menendez of using his position as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to aid the authoritarian government of Egypt.
Menendez and his wife are charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Hana, Uribe and Daibes also are charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud.
Menendez, who has held his Senate seat since 2006, is up for re-election in 2024. His career in Washington spans three decades, including his previous run as U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 13th District.
This is the second time Menendez has been indicted on corruption charges. In 2015, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey alleged that he had received more than $600,000 in political contributions and other bribes from Salomon Melgen, a wealthy ophthalmologist in Florida, in exchange for political favors.
After the men's trial ended in a hung jury, federal prosecutors sought to retry the case. But a federal judge acquitted both men of some charges and the remaining charges were withdrawn. Melgen was later convicted of health care fraud in a separate case and sentenced to 17 years in prison, but was pardoned by former President Donald Trump in 2021.