Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and his wife have been charged with bribery over the alleged receipt of “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in return for senator’s use of his influence to enrich three New Jersey businessmen and benefit the Egyptian government, according to an indictment in Manhattan federal court that was made public Friday.
The charges include conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. The bribes the couple allegedly received included “cash, gold bars, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle and other items of value,” the filing said.
Federal agents allege they discovered many of the items when they executed search warrants on the couple’s home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, in June 2022. They found more than $480,000 in cash “much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe,” including jackets bearing the senator’s name that were hanging in his closet, as well as more than $70,000 in Nadine Menendez’s safe deposit box, the indictment alleges.
Agents also allegedly discovered a Mercedes-Benz convertible worth more than $60,000 that a pair of New Jersey businessmen, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe, gave to Nadine Menendez in exchange for the senator’s interference in a state criminal prosecution of Uribe’s associate and investigation into an employee, whom Uribe referred to as a relative. Federal agents also found gold bars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Menendezes’ home that were provided by Hana and another businessman, Fred Daibes, who, along with Uribe, were also charged in the indictment.
Menendez dismissed the allegations against him in a statement responding to the charges, saying prosecutors have “misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office.”
“I remain focused on continuing this important work and will not be distracted by baseless allegations,” he said.
A source close to Menendez says he will step down as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee while the case proceeds.
Nadine Menendez’s lawyer, David Schertler, said in a statement that she “denies any wrongdoing and will defend vigorously against these allegations in court.”
Menendez and his co-defendants are expected to appear at the U.S. District Court for the Souther District of New York, in lower Manhattan, at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, and will be arraigned later that day.
The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, announced the charges at a news conference Friday, noting Menendez’s Senate website says he can’t compel an agency to act in someone’s favor, influence matters involving a private business or get involved in criminal matters. “But we allege that behind the scenes, Sen. Menendez was doing those things for certain people — the people who were bribing him and his wife,” he said.
Williams added that the investigation in the case is not over and asked that anyone with knowledge of the matter call the FBI’s tip line.