US Senator Bob Menendez has been accused of using his position of authority to aid three persons and the Egyptian government in exchange for cash through the use of gold bars, mortgage payments, and a Mercedes-Benz convertible.
Menendez has refuted all accusations of impropriety, as has his wife.
He has temporarily stepped down as head of the chamber's powerful foreign relations committee as he battles bribery charges.
Here are some of the key highlights from Menendez's indictment:
In the closets of the Menendez family's Englewood Cliffs house, close to half a million dollars in cash, including a large roll of money hidden inside a blazer from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus with Menendez's name, were discovered.
Prosecutors said that at least one of the envelopes included the co-defendant Fred Daibes' driver's fingerprints, DNA, and return address. Around January 24, 2022, Nadine Menendez texted Daibes with the message "Thank you," the indictment claims. It's "Christmas in January."
That is "pretty damning," according to Patrice Schiano, a lecturer at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former FBI forensic accountant.
“It doesn’t surprise me that there might be cash hidden in the house because if they took it to the bank that’s going to be reported,” Schiano said. “But that’s going to be hard to defend because any jury is going to be like, ‘That’s a lot of cash in house’.”
According to the indictment, Jose Uribe and Wael Hana, two additional co-defendants in the case, bought the Mercedes-Benz for Menendez's wife in exchange for the senator interfering with a state criminal prosecution of a Uribe associate accused of insurance fraud and an investigation into a family member who worked for him.
“You are a miracle worker who makes dreams come true,” Nadine Menendez texted Uribe, according to the indictment. “I will always remember that.”
Prosecutors claim that Menendez also assisted Hana in obtaining military financing for Egypt in exchange for a promise of a position that would not materialise for his wife.
Later, Nadine Menendez sent her husband a letter from an Egyptian official requesting that a motion to support $300 million in aid for Egypt be amended.
The Justice Department claimed that Menendez then "ghost-wrote the letter on behalf" of the Egyptians and sent it to his wife's email address from his personal account. She then forwarded Hana the email. Menendez and his wife deleted those emails shortly after.
“Almost everyone in this digital age is at risk of having their digital lives revealed by law enforcement investigators,” Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, a law professor at the American University Washington College of Law said. “The fact that someone who should know better allegedly used a digital system to incriminate himself is a testament to how inescapable and commonplace it is to do everything — criminal or not — through a trackable digital system."
Hana purchased 22 one-ounce gold bars two days after Menendez had a personal meeting with an official from Egypt.
They all have individual serial numbers. Federal agents eventually discovered two of them at the Menendez residence, according to the prosecution.
They also learned that Menendez searched for a "kilo of gold price" on Google on January 29, 2022.
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