U.S. Attorney charges Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez in federal bribery scheme tied to Egypt
Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York accused the Menendez and his wife of taking bribes of gold bars, cash and a luxury car for corrupt acts, and using his power to provide political access and benefits to the Egyptian government
September 24, 2023 11:30am
Updated: September 24, 2023 11:30am
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) announced Friday that his office is charging U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, his wife Nadine and three area businessmen on federal bribery charges.
The bombshell charges, which are in connection with Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes, come just eight years after Menendez was charged by the Justice Department in a similar, prior 2015 indictment.
The three New Jersey businessmen are charged with the first two of the three criminal counts that the Menendezs face: conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.
In SDNY’s press conference, Williams accused the Menendez couple took bribes of gold bars, cash and a luxury car for corrupt acts, including having the senator, who leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, use his power to provide political access and benefits to the Egyptian government.
The indictment alleges the longtime New Jersey senator, who is also chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), passed along sensitive and non-public U.S. government information to Egyptian government officials and worked quietly behind the scenes to help advance Cairo’s agenda within the United States.
“The indictment alleges that between 2018 and 2022, Senator Menendez, the senior U.S. senator from New Jersey and the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his wife, Nadine Menendez engaged in a corrupt relationship with Hanna, Uribe and Davies,” Williams told a cache of reporters.
“The indictment alleges that through that relationship, the senator and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in 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 Hanna, Uribe and Davies provided bribes in the form of cash, gold, home mortgage payments, a low show or no show job for Nadine Menendez, a Mercedes Benz and other things of value for the senator and his wife.”
The federal prosecutors also alleged that Menendez was aware his conduct was criminal because Senate website makes clear what he can and cannot do within the letter of the law for his constituents.
Some of the more specific allegations against the SFRC chair include ghost-writing a letter on behalf of the Egyptian government and pressuring other senators to remove a hold on $300 million in aid to the country, according to the Associated Press.
An FBI search of the Menendez’s home in New Jersey turned up $480,000 in hidden cash and $100,000 in gold bars, according to the SDNY.
David Schertler, a lawyer for Nadine Menendez, said the senator’s wife “denies any criminal conduct and will vigorously contest these charges in court,” according to wire service also reports.
As a result of the charges, Menendez will have to step down as chairman of the SFRC. The New Jersey legislator has served as a Democratic senator for New Jersey since 2006, succeeding John Corzine and serving alongside U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. He is one of the longest standing members of the Cuban American Congressional Caucus, having served in the House of Representatives since 1993.
Federal prosecutors charged both the senator and his wife with a total of three counts: conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, according to CNBC.com.
Menendez is up for reelection in 2024 and has denied the charges.