New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and his wife were indicted Friday on bribery charges in what officials described as a corrupt scheme that involved gold bars, envelopes of cash, and a covert effort to aid a foreign government.
Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, allegedly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from three New Jersey associates and businessmen in exchange for the senator using his influence to benefit the authoritarian government of Egypt, according to the indictment.
“Those bribes included cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value,” the indictment alleged. Also included are photos of envelopes of cash stuffed in jacket pockets and gold bars allegedly found during a court-authorized search of the Mendenez home in New Jersey.
During the search, federal agents said they found “the fruits” of an alleged bribery agreement with Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes, which included a luxury vehicle, home furnishings, and more than $480,000 in the home alone, according to the indictment.
After Justice Department officials announced the charges Friday, Menendez, a Democrat, said in a statement that he “will not be distracted by baseless allegations” and referenced being charged on corruption charges previously — a trial that ended with a deadlocked jury in November 2017.
Shortly after Robert and Nadine Menendez began dating in early 2018, she and Hana arranged a series of meetings and dinners with the senator that were paid for by Hana or his associates, according to the indictment.
During these meetings, Egyptian officials made “requests related to foreign military sales and foreign military financing” in exchange for Hana promising, among other things, that he would put Nadine Menendez “on the payroll of his company in a low-or-no-show job,” according to the indictment.
Here’s what Menendez and his wife are accused of.
Menendez allegedly ghost-wrote a letter lobbying other senators to support US aid to Egypt
In May 2018, Nadine Menendez conveyed to Robert Menendez a request from an Egyptian official “seeking assistance in editing and drafting a letter lobbying” other senators to support American aid to Egypt. Nadine said she wanted Robert to prepare the letter because Hana and an official she called the “General” had gotten her “clearance for a project,” according to the indictment.
Robert Menendez allegedly ghost-wrote and edited the letter secretly and sent it to Nadine from his personal email account. Nadine then forwarded the letter to Hana, according to the indictment. Nadine and Robert are charged with deleting the email in which she asked Robert to write the letter.
Menendez allegedly texted about approving foreign military sales to Egypt
In July 2018, Robert Menendez allegedly texed Nadine Menendez the following messages:
— Tell Will [HANA] I am going to sign off this sale to Egypt today. Egypt: 46,000 120MM Target Practice Rounds and 10,000 Rounds Tank Ammunition: $99 million
— NOTE: These tank rounds are for tanks they have had for many years. They are using these in the Sinai for the counter-terrorism campaign.
Nadine then forwarded the text to Hana, who forwarded it to two Egyptian officials, one of whom replied with a “thumbs up emoji,” according to the indictment.
Nadine Menendez allegedly formed an LLC to receive bribe payments
In June 2018, Nadine Menendez formed an entity called Strategic International Business Consultants LLC in New Jersey with Robert Menendez’s assistance, according to the indictment. The company was allegedly used to receive bribe payments.
“When sending a relative information about the formation of her company, NADINE MENENDEZ stated, by text message, ‘every time I’m in a middle person for a deal I am asking to get paid and this is my consulting company,’” the indictment said.
Nadine and Robert Menendez allegedly accepted expensive items and gold bars
In early 2021, Hana allegedly used funds that led to two exercise machines, an air purifier, and other items worth thousands of dollars to be purchased online and then delivered to the Menendez home.
That June, Nadine and “Egyptian Official-4″ organized a private meeting between Robert and a senior Egyptian intelligence official (“Egyptian Official-5″) in a hotel in Washington, D.C., a day before a separate meeting between Egyptian Official-5 and other senators, according to the indictment.
On the day of the private meeting, Robert provided Nadine with a copy of a news article “reporting on questions that other US senators intended to ask Egyptian Official-5 regarding human rights issues,” according to the indictment. Nadine then allegedly sent that article to Egyptian Official-4, who expressed gratitude.
Two days after the private meeting, Hana allegedly bought 22 one-ounce gold bars, each with a unique serial number.
“Two of these one-ounce gold bars were subsequently found during the court-authorized search in June 2022,” of the Menendez home,” the indictment said. “During the relevant time periods, the spot market price of gold was approximately $1,800 per ounce.”
In January 2022, Robert Menendez sent Nadine Menendez a link to a news article “reporting on two pending foreign military sales to Egypt totaling approximately $2.5 billion dollars,” according to the indictment.
Nadine allegedly sent the link to Hana and wrote, “Bob had to sign off on this.”
Nadine is charged with selling some of the gold in Manhattan before the search of their home and depositing “the proceeds into bank accounts she controlled.”
Menendez allegedly agreed to disrupt New Jersey state criminal matters in exchange for a Mercedes-Benz convertible
In December 2018, Nadine Menendez was involved in a car accident that left her without a car. She allegedly texted Hana multiple times about her lack of a car.
In 2019, Hana and Uribe offered and helped to buy a new Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible worth more than $60,000 for the couple, according to the indictment. In exchange, Robert allegedly sought to interfere in separate criminal prosecutions involving an associate of Uribe and one of his employees.
In January 2019, the senator attempted to pressure a senior state prosecutor about the case involving Uribe’s associate. The official said they considered the senator’s “actions inappropriate and did not agree to intervene,” according to the indictment.
In March 2019, Uribe worked to put Nadine in touch with a salesman at a Mercedes-Benz dealership in New Jersey. Once there, she allegedly sent Robert photos of “two different cars to seek his input on the color scheme.”
On April 4, 2019, Nadine met Uribe in the parking lot of a restaurant where Uribe provided her with approximately $15,000 in cash, according to the indictment.
She purchased the convertible the next day, “making a $15,000 down payment with a combination of cash, a credit card, and several checks, and taking out an automotive loan to finance the remainder of the approximately $60,000 purchase price,” according to the indictment. A number of the statements that Nadine made on the application to secure the loan financing were allegedly false.
“Congratulations mon amour de la vie, we are the proud owners of a 2019 Mercedes,” Nadine allegedly texted Robert after the purchase was complete. Later in the day, she sent him a photo of the car.
Menendez allegedly agreed to disrupt a federal criminal prosecution in exchange for cash, furniture, and gold
From December 2020 to early 2022, Robert Menendez tried to influence the pending federal prosecution of Daibes in exchange for cash, furniture, and gold bars, “including by recommending that the President nominate a candidate for US Attorney for the District of New Jersey” who the senator believed he could sway, according to the indictment.
On Oct. 17, 2021, Robert and Nadine Menendez were picked up from John F. Kennedy International Airport after a trip to Egypt by a driver for Daibes, who drove them home. The next day, Robert performed a web search for “how much is one kilo of gold worth,” according to the indictment.
On Jan. 24, 2022, Daibes’s driver exchanged two short calls with Nadine. She then texted Daibes, writing, “Thank you. Christmas in January,” according to the indictment.
The driver’s fingerprints were later found on an “envelope containing thousands of dollars of cash” recovered from the Menendez residence. The envelope also bore Daibes’s DNA and was marked with his return address, according to the indictment.
In addition to the gold bars, federal agents found “hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash, including approximately 10 envelopes of cash, with tens of thousands of dollars, bearing the fingerprints and/or DNA” of Daibes at the couple’s home, according to the indictment.