Prosecutors charge Menendez with a dozen new counts

Prosecutors charge Menendez with a dozen new counts

Prosecutors brought a dozen additional charges against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), including obstruction of justice and bribery, after one of the senator’s co-defendants took a plea deal and agreed to cooperate.

Unveiled on Tuesday, the superseding indictment charges Menendez with a total of 16 criminal counts over allegations he accepted luxurious bribes in exchange for his political influence and acted as an agent of the Egyptian government.

Menendez pleaded not guilty to the previous rounds of charges and has brushed off calls to resign from the Senate. The Hill requested comment from his lawyers.

Many of the new counts involve alleged schemes with three New Jersey businessmen already brought to light in the senator’s previous indictments, but prosecutors now charge Menendez directly with bribery, extortion and acting as a foreign agent rather than merely bringing conspiracy charges.

The new charging documents follow the recent guilty plea of Jose Uribe, one of three businessmen charged alongside Menendez and his wife, Nadine. The other businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, also face new charges.

Prosecutors newly accuse the defendants of conspiring to cover-up the alleged bribery scheme as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York criminally investigated the case.

Uribe’s guilty plea acknowledges conspiring to falsely claim that payments he made to the Menendez’s, which they used to help them secure a Mercedez-Benz convertible, were loans. But prosecutors say those payments were bribes accepted by Menendez who allegedly agreed to disrupt the investigation into Uribe.

As part of his deal, Uribe agreed to testify truthfully if called upon in Menendez’s trial. The trial is scheduled to begin on May 6.

After flipping the businessman, prosecutors on Tuesday alleged Menendez obstructed justice by falsely characterizing his knowledge of the convertible payment and a more than $23,000 payment Hana made toward the senator’s wife’s mortgage.

They also charged the senator with obstruction of justice for allegedly urging his counsel to tell the prosecuting office at first that he did not know about the payments until 2022 and later that, in 2022, he learned the funds were loans.

“In truth and in fact, and as Menendez well knew, Menendez had learned of both the mortgage company payment and the car payments prior to 2022, and they were not loans, but bribe payments,” prosecutors wrote in the updated indictment.

The latest indictment also details a previously unknown meeting between Uribe and Menendez’s wife, Nadine.

Prosecutors say Nadine Menendez asked Uribe what he would say to law enforcement about the payments he had made for the Mercedes-Benz convertible if asked, to which he suggested he’d say the payments had been a loan. Nadine Menendez said that “sounded good,” according to the updated indictment.

Nadine Menendez is similarly accused of telling her counsel to inform prosecutors that she believed the $23,000 payment from Hana and convertible payment from Uribe were loans. Prosecutors say the senator’s wife “well knew” they were bribe payments.

Menendez said in a statement through his lawyers that the superseding indictment is a “flagrant abuse of power.” He maintained his innocence and accused “overzealous prosecutors” of “making wild allegations again and again, without actually proving anything.”

“The latest charge reveals far more about the government than it says about me,” Menendez said. “It says that the prosecutors are afraid of the facts, scared to subject their charges to the fair-minded scrutiny of a jury, and unconstrained by any sense of justice or fair play.

“It says, once and for all, that they will stop at nothing in their zeal to get me,” he continued.

Menendez, his wife and the three businessmen were first indicted in September. The Justice Department asserts that the senator and his wife agreed to and accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes in exchange for Menendez’s political influence, used to enrich the businessmen and Egypt.

A superseding indictment, filed in October, added charges for Menendez, his wife and Hana of acting as a foreign agent of Egypt. A second superseding indictment, filed in January, introduced new accusations the senator accepted gifts from the Qatari government and helped Daibes obtain millions in investment funds from the country.

The latest indictment is the third superseding indictment in the case.

Menendez stepped away from his position as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations last year after he was first indicted, in line with Democratic Conference rules.

Updated at 5 p.m.

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