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Prosecutors: $480k Cash, Over $100k in Gold Bars Found at Menendez Home

Cash, gold bars, and a Mercedes Benz – totaling more than $710,000 collectively – were recovered between the home and safety deposit box of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his wife, Nadine Menendez, during an investigation into bribes they allegedly accepted from New Jersey businessmen, federal prosecutors say.

The indictment, brought by the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, accuses Menendez and his wife of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes” from three New Jersey businessmen – Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes – “in exchange for his influence and power as a Senator to seek to protect and enrich” them and “benefit the Arab Republic of Egypt.”

It notes prosecutors searched the Menendezes’s residence in June 2022. During the search, federal agents located some $480,000 in cash, including in envelopes stuffed in jackets embroidered with “Robert Menendez” and “Senator Menendez” on the chest, per the filing. Some of the envelopes were recovered from “clothing, closets, and a safe,” and some of them yielded DNA and or fingerprints from Daibes or his driver, the filing said. Upwards of $70,000 in cash was also discovered in a safety deposit box in Nadine Menendez’s name.

The indictment alleges Daibes or Hana gave the Mendezes the gold bars authorities recovered from the residence, which totaled more than $100,000 in value. According to the indictment, Menendez “agreed to attempt to influence and attempted to influence the pending federal prosecution of” Daibes in exchange for “cash, furniture, and gold bars” between December 2020 and early 2022.

On March 31, 2022 – months before the search of his residence – prosecutors say Nadine Menendez gave a Manhattan jeweler “two one-kilogram gold bars to be sold,” which allegedly previously belonged to Daines.

The serial numbers on the bars indicate they were once under Daibes’s ownership, the indictment declares. A day earlier, prosecutors say Daibes and she got lunch with her later texting, “THANK YOU Fred,” with emojis of prayer hands, a heart, and an “X,” an “O.”

Additionally, The couple’s third codefendant, Uribe, is accused of providing a Mercedes Benz worth upwards of $60,000 to the couple in 2019. This was allegedly in exchange for Menedez’s alleged help in interfering in a New Jersey criminal investigation into a Uribe associate.

What is more, Menendez is accused of using “his power and influence, including his leadership role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to benefit the government of Egypt in various ways,” said the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, during a press conference on Friday.

“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,” he said. He further noted that “Menendez improperly allegedly 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.”

Menendez, who will make $174,000 in 2023 as a U.S. Senator, has spent most of his professional life in public office and did not have a noticeable career in the private sector before entering politics, according to his biography on his official senate website.

Seven years after he graduated from Rutgers Law School in 1979, he was elected mayor of Union City, New Jersey. From there, he served as a state representative before he became a U.S. congressman in 1992. In 2005, he was elected to the upper chamber of Congress.

Nadine Menendez, formerly Nadine Arslanian, was “unemployed” before she and Menendez began dating in February 2018, according to the filing.

Despite the exorbitant amount of cash and gold bars purportedly discovered at their home, Menendez contended Friday that the accusations are baseless, declared he is the victim of a “smear campaign,” and asserted that prosecutors’ “excesses” are clear.

“The excesses of these prosecutors is apparent. They have misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office,” he said. “On top of that, not content with making false claims against me, they have attacked my wife for the longstanding friendships she had before she and I even met.”

“Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator and serve with honor and distinction,” he added. “Even worse, they see me as an obstacle in the way of their broader political goals.”

Notably, he is being charged by President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s  Department of Justice.

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.

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