Embattled Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) entered a not-guilty plea on bribery allegations Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom after being federally indicted on three counts on Friday.
Menendez faces three counts: Conspiracy to Commit Bribery, Conspiracy to Commit Honest Service Fraud, and Conspiracy to Commit Extortion Under the Color of Official Right. The charges stem from allegations that he accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes” from three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for using his influence and power as a senator for their benefit and the Egyptian government’s benefit.
His plea on Wednesday came before U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of New York Ona T. Wang, Reuters reported. Menendez is one of five codefendants in the case, along with his wife, Nadine Menendez, and the three New Jersey businessmen — Wael Hana, Fred Daibes, and Jose Uribe.
Nadine Menendez faces the same three charges as her husband and also pleaded not guilty on Wednesday, Reuters noted. Daibes, Uribe, and Hana face two counts: Conspiracy to Commit Bribery and Conspiracy to Commit Honest Service Fraud. Daibes and Uribe pleaded not guilty on Wednesday, while Hana was arraigned on Tuesday when he entered his not guilty plea.
“Wang said Menendez could be released on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond. The senator will be required to surrender his personal passport, but may retain his official passport and travel abroad on official business,” Reuters’ Luc Cohen reported.
Breitbart News has noted that during a search of Menendez’s residence in June 2022, authorities recovered $480,000 in cash, more than $100,000 in gold bars, and a Mercedes Benz that was said to be compensation for a bribe, according to the indictment. Some of the cash was allegedly recovered from inside Menendez’s jackets that were embroidered with “Senator Menendez” or “Robert Menendez.”
Prosecutors alleged that the DNA and/or fingerprints from one of the three New Jersey businessmen — Fred Daibes — or his driver, were discovered on some of the envelopes where the cash was found. Daibes is a codefendant in the case, along with the two other New Jersey businessmen, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe.
The indictment alleged that either Daibes or Hana provided Menendez with these gold bars. Authorities also assert that Uribe gave the Menendezes the Mercedes, worth more than $60,000, in exchange for the senator’s alleged agreement to attempt to disrupt a New Jersey criminal investigation into a Uribe associate.
Another $70,000 was located in Nadine Menendez’s safe deposit box, per the indictment.
On Friday, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams detailed the nature of allegations surrounding Menendez, Egypt, and Hana:
The indictment alleges that Senator Menendez used his power and influence, including his leadership role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to benefit the government of Egypt in various ways. Among other actions, Senator Menendez allegedly provided sensitive, nonpublic U.S. government information to Egyptian officials and otherwise took steps to secretly aid the government of Egypt. We also allege that Senator Menendez improperly pressured a senior official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect a lucrative monopoly that the government of Egypt had awarded to Hana, a lucrative monopoly that Hana then used to fund certain bribe payments.
Menendez called the accusations “baseless” in a statement on Friday.
“For 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba,” he said at a press conference on Monday.
“Now, this may seem old-fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings account, based on the income that I have lawfully derived over those 30 years,” he added.
Despite his insistence on innocence, Menendez’s colleagues have turned on the senior New Jersey senator, with a plethora of Democrat senators calling for his resignation.
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Menedez was previously indicted on corruption charges in 2015, but the case resulted in a mistrial.
The case is the United States of America v. Menendez, No. 23 CRIM 490, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.