New Jersey Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, are facing a hefty federal indictment that details a years-long bribery scheme involving a $60,000 Mercedes-Benz, gold bars and loads of cash.
So far, Menendez has refused to resign his seat, but he stepped down from his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month.
The Democratic senator was also indicted on federal bribery charges in 2016, which related to a wealthy Florida eye doctor and longtime friend who was a big donor to Menendez and allegedly received benefits in return. He was acquitted of the charges in 2018 following a mistrial. The most recent charges are unrelated.
Here is how the events unfolded, according to the indictment.
Arslanian begins dating Menendez. Shortly after, Arslanian introduces Menendez to her longtime friend and businessman Wael Hana, who has close connections with Egyptian officials and is associated with Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer and donor to Menendez, and Jose Uribe, who works in the New Jersey insurance and trucking industries.
Between 2018 and 2022
Menendez and Arslanian accept bribes from Hana, Daibes and Uribe, which include gold bars, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, a new Mercedes-Benz convertible, home mortgage payments and “low-or-no-show job” compensation — three $10,000 checks — for Arslanian, and valuable home furnishings.
Menendez also provides sensitive, confidential information about the federal government to Egyptian officials, including information about personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. The indictment alleges he also ghost-writes a letter at this time advocating for the release of $300 million in aid to Egypt and tells Egyptian officials he will approve or abolish holds on military financing and sales of military equipment to Egypt.
Daibes is charged with federal criminal charges for obtaining loans under deceptive pretenses from a bank he established in New Jersey.
Arslanian hits and kills a pedestrian, Richard Koop. She was not given a DUI test and was let go immediately after providing a brief statement to police, according to dash cam video released by Bogota Police to The New York Times. Michael Mordaga, identified by the New York Post as a former director of Hackensack Police and former chief of detectives in the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, was on the scene within minutes with other officers and can be heard in dash cam footage saying: “I don’t even know her. That’s my buddy’s wife who’s friends with her. He said, ‘could you do me a favor and take her up there, because her friend just got in a car accident.’”
Uribe offers to help buy a new Mercedes-Benz convertible worth over $60,000 for Menendez and Arslanian after the fatal crash. In exchange, the indictment alleges Menendez sought to interfere in the New Jersey Attorney General’s investigation of Uribe for obtaining loans under false pretenses.
April to May 2019
Hana’s business pays approximately $23,000 to bring the mortgage of Arslanian’s residence current. Menendez pressures a U.S. Department of Agriculture official to protect Hana’s business monopoly that was certified by Egypt.
Menendez and Arslanian get engaged and are married one year later.
December 2020 to 2022
Menendez agrees to sway the pending federal prosecution of Daibes in exchange for cash, furniture, and gold bars given by Daibes.
FBI issues a search warrant at the Menendez residence in New Jersey, discovering over $480,000 in cash hidden in clothing, closets and a safe. They also find over $70,000 in cash in Arslanian’s safe. Envelopes with fingerprints and/or DNA of Daibes or his driver are found, as well as at least 13 gold bars worth over $100,000, the Mercedes-Benz and home furniture.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York charges Arslanian, Menendez, Hana, Uribe, Daibes in the federal bribery scheme.
Menendez and Arslanian plead not guilty, and Menendez refuses to resign from the Senate amid growing calls from the Democratic Caucus.