December 1, 2023

Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the highly effective Democratic chairman of the Senate Overseas Relations Committee, was charged on Friday with taking lots of of 1000’s of {dollars} in bribes — together with gold bars — to wield affect overseas and at dwelling, aiding the federal government of Egypt and businessmen in New Jersey.

The three-count federal indictment, which additionally charges the senator’s wife and three New Jersey businessmen, accuses him of utilizing his official place in a variety of corrupt schemes. In a single, he sought to secretly present Egypt with delicate U.S. authorities data, prosecutors stated. In two others, he aimed to affect felony investigations of two New Jersey businessmen, one in all whom was a longtime fund-raiser for Mr. Menendez.

Towards that finish, the senator advisable that President Biden nominate a lawyer, Philip R. Sellinger, to be U.S. legal professional for New Jersey as a result of Mr. Menendez believed he might affect Mr. Sellinger’s prosecution of the fund-raiser, the indictment stated. Mr. Sellinger, who was in the end confirmed for the publish, was not accused of any wrongdoing.

In one other scheme, Mr. Menendez used his place to attempt to disrupt an investigation and prosecution by the New Jersey State legal professional common’s workplace, in accordance with the indictment.

In alternate for all these actions, the indictment stated, the senator and his spouse, Nadine Menendez, accepted money, gold, funds towards a house mortgage, a luxurious car and different useful issues.

“Constituent service is a part of any legislator’s job — Senator Menendez isn’t any completely different,” Damian Williams, the U.S. legal professional for the Southern District of New York, stated at a information convention asserting the fees. He stated that Mr. Menendez’s Senate web site explicitly states the sorts of providers he wouldn’t present as a result of they’re be improper.

“Behind the scenes, Senator Menendez was doing these issues for sure individuals — the individuals who had been bribing him and his spouse,” he stated.

Quickly after the information convention, Mr. Menendez issued a page-long denial, blaming the fees on “forces behind the scenes” which have “repeatedly tried to silence my voice and dig my political grave.”

He stated he was assured that this matter can be “efficiently resolved as soon as all the information are offered and my fellow New Jerseyans will see this for what it’s.”

“The excesses of those prosecutors is clear,” he added. “They’ve misrepresented the traditional work of a Congressional workplace. On high of that, not content material with making false claims towards me, they’ve attacked my spouse for the longstanding friendships she had earlier than she and I even met.”

Ms. Menendez’s lawyer, David Schertler, stated that his shopper had not damaged any legal guidelines.

“Mrs. Menendez denies any felony conduct and can vigorously contest these fees in court docket,” Mr. Schertler stated.

Representatives for the 2 businessmen couldn’t instantly be reached for touch upon the fees.

A spokesperson for the third businessman, Wael Hana, stated in an announcement: “We’re nonetheless reviewing the fees however primarily based upon our preliminary assessment, they’ve completely no benefit.”

The fees towards Mr. Menendez, 69, observe a prolonged investigation by the F.B.I. and federal prosecutors in Manhattan and comes practically six years after his trial on unrelated claims of corruption ended with a hung jury.

The businessmen named within the indictment, which was unsealed in Manhattan federal court docket, are Fred Daibes, a distinguished New Jersey actual property developer and fund-raiser for Mr. Menendez; Wael Hana, a longtime good friend of Ms. Menendez who based a halal meat certification enterprise and Jose Uribe, who works within the trucking and insurance coverage enterprise.

The 39-page indictment fees the senator, his spouse and the businessmen with conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit sincere providers wire fraud. It additionally fees Mr. Menendez and his spouse with conspiracy to commit extortion below the colour of official proper, which means utilizing his official place to pressure somebody to present them one thing of worth.

In line with the indictment, Ms. Menendez at one level bragged that actions she took on behalf of Mr. Hana would make him “extra highly effective than the president of Egypt.”

Throughout a search of the couple’s dwelling and a protected deposit field in Ms. Menendez’s identify, investigators discovered $550,000 in money, a lot of it hidden in clothes, closets and a protected. A few of the money was stuffed in envelopes that contained the fingerprints or DNA of Mr. Daibes or his driver, who was not named.

The indictment will rapidly resound in Washington and in New Jersey.

Mr. Menendez is already dealing with at the very least one Democratic challenger in his deliberate run for re-election to a fourth time period within the Senate, and the Republican mayor of Mendham Borough, N.J., has additionally introduced that she’s going to compete for the seat.

If Mr. Menendez had been to step down earlier than the tip of his time period, New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Philip D. Murphy, can be chargeable for appointing a successor.

Mr. Daibes, who pleaded responsible final 12 months to a monetary crime and is awaiting sentencing, is amongst a small group of builders chargeable for changing components of the polluted Hudson River waterfront right into a bustling hive of residential and business exercise.

Mr. Menendez, his spouse and their three co-defendants are anticipated to look in Manhattan federal court docket on Wednesday, in accordance with Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the Southern District.

The fees aren’t the senator’s first encounter with the legislation. In 2015, Mr. Menendez was indicted in New Jersey on bribery fees in what federal prosecutors known as a scheme between the senator and a rich eye physician to commerce political favors for items value near $1 million, together with luxurious holidays within the Caribbean and marketing campaign contributions. Mr. Menendez’s corruption trial ended in a mistrial in November 2017, after the jury stated it was unable to achieve a verdict.

The decide later acquitted Mr. Menendez of a number of fees and the Justice Division dismissed the others.

As chairman of the Overseas Relations Committee, Mr. Menendez is one in all Washington’s most influential Democrats.

He climbed there rung by rung, rapidly, a consummate survivor.

The son of Cuban immigrants, he rose to energy in Hudson County, a famously tough political proving floor in northern New Jersey, the place he started serving on the varsity board in Union Metropolis as a 20-year-old faculty pupil. By 32, he was mayor. Mr. Menendez received the publish after sporting a bulletproof vest to testify against Mafia members and a mentor, William V. Musto, town’s mayor who was convicted of taking lots of of 1000’s of {dollars} in kickbacks from a contractor employed to construct colleges.

Mr. Menendez served within the State Meeting and Senate earlier than being elected to the U.S. Home of Representatives; he was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2005 to fill the emptiness created when Jon Corzine left the physique to turn into governor.

Quickly after being sworn in to the Senate, Mr. Menendez confronted a federal inquiry led by Chris Christie, then the U.S. legal professional for New Jersey, over funds by a nonprofit group that rented a home he owned. It went nowhere, however shadowed him for practically six years.

It is a creating story and can be up to date.

Kirsten Noyes contributed analysis.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *