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Gold bars, basement carpeting and more. Here’s what prosecutors say about a US Senator being bribed

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Democratic Senator. Bob Menendez from New Jersey will face his second, high-profile bribery and corruption trial in seven years starting Monday.

This new case is a complicated affair involving multiple gold bars, envelopes of cash, a Mercedes and much more than, prosecutors say, the powerful former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his new wife (they got married during the alleged bribery scheme). ) obtained in exchange for helping a halal meat monopoly, granting favors to people from Egypt and Qatar, and trying to influence a prosecution in New Jersey.

Menendez, who has until June to announce whether he will run for re-election, has pleaded not guilty and denied all charges. He told CNN’s Manu Raju on Capitol Hill last week: “I look forward to proving my innocence.”

Also pleading not guilty and denying wrongdoing are his wife Nadine, who is also named as a defendant, as well as two businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, who have ties to Egypt and Qatar respectively. In contrast, another man, New Jersey businessman Jose Uribe, has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Here’s what prosecutors say the senator and his wife received:

Gold bars

Prosecutors say Hana and Daibes gave Menendez and his wife gold bars, which were seized by the FBI from Menendez’s home. After returning from a trip to Egypt and receiving a ride home from the airport by Daibes’ driver, prosecutors say Menendez searched online for the price of a gold bar.

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Two of the gold bars found in Menendez's home during a court-approved search.  - US District Court Southern District of New York

Two of the gold bars found in Menendez’s home during a court-approved search. – US District Court Southern District of New York

Envelopes full of cash

The indictment includes photos of stacks of cash next to envelopes scattered on jackets embroidered with the senator’s name. There are stacks of $20 bills and $50 bills in one photo and $100 bills in another photo.

Prosecutors placed this photo of a jacket with Menendez's name underneath $100 bills. - US District Court Southern District of New YorkProsecutors placed this photo of a jacket with Menendez's name underneath $100 bills. - US District Court Southern District of New York

Prosecutors placed this photo of a jacket with Menendez’s name underneath $100 bills. – US District Court Southern District of New York

Prosecutors placed this photo of a jacket with Menendez's name under stacks of $20 and $50 bills. - US District Court Southern District of New YorkProsecutors placed this photo of a jacket with Menendez's name under stacks of $20 and $50 bills. - US District Court Southern District of New York

Prosecutors placed this photo of a jacket with Menendez’s name under stacks of $20 and $50 bills. – US District Court Southern District of New York

They also found cash in closets, a safe and Nadine Menendez’s safe. Prosecutors say some of the envelopes contained fingerprints or DNA belonging to Daibes or his driver.

Total cash discovered: more than $480,000 in the house and more than $70,000 in the safe.

Later court filings adding charges in the case are more specific, describing bags full of cash found on hangers in the senator’s basement and stuffed into boots in the closet.

Convertible Mercedes

The 2019 vehicle, which prosecutors say is worth more than $60,000, was parked in the driveway of Menendez’s home when it was raided.

The indictment describes Nadine Menendez receiving $15,000 in cash from Uribe in a parking lot the day before she picked up the vehicle and paying $15,000 as a down payment. Uribe then allegedly hid his monthly financing payments for the vehicle.

Nadine Menendez bought the Mercedes-Benz C-Class convertible with a $15,000 down payment, the day after prosecutors said Uribe gave her $15,000 in a parking lot.  They included this photo in court documents.  - US District Court Southern District of New YorkNadine Menendez bought the Mercedes-Benz C-Class convertible with a $15,000 down payment, the day after prosecutors said Uribe gave her $15,000 in a parking lot.  They included this photo in court documents.  - US District Court Southern District of New York

Nadine Menendez bought the Mercedes-Benz C-Class convertible with a $15,000 down payment, the day after prosecutors said Uribe gave her $15,000 in a parking lot. They included this photo in court documents. – US District Court Southern District of New York

Later, after the raid, she allegedly wrote Uribe a check for $21,000, which prosecutors say was a clean-up attempt, making the gift seem like a loan.

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Nadine Menendez needed a new car, apparently after hitting and killing a jaywalker in Bogota, New Jersey, in December 2018. A report was made to the police, but no charges were filed against her.

Mortgage payment

Prosecutors say the senator and his wife also tried to cover up about $23,000 in assistance Nadine Menendez received from a halal meat company owned by Hana that bailed her out of foreclosure on a mortgage. The refund checks were paid in December 2022, months after the first raid on the senator’s home.

Payment for work that shows up little or not at all

According to prosecutors, Hana’s company paid Nadine Menendez $10,000 three times. They claim that at the time she was acting as a kind of go-between for the Egyptian officials, Hana and the senator.

Engagement ring

Prosecutors describe a recorded conversation between Hana and a confidential source that describes Hana receiving $150,000 from a man to buy a car and an engagement ring for Nadine Menendez in exchange for the senator giving her a “push” in a criminal case in New Jersey. saved the man three years.

Carpet in the basement

Prosecutors said in their February filings that Nadine Menendez had arranged for carpeting to be installed in her basement, apparently in exchange for hosting dinners between the senator and officials — as well as for his summons, according to prosecutors, in a attempt to interfere in a New Jersey case. state prosecution.

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Furniture

The initial indictment dated September 2023 makes several mentions of furniture and furnishings supplied by Hana and Daibes, but does not go into detail.

Formula 1 tickets

In a superseding indictment filed in March, prosecutors allege that Menendez obtained tickets for the 2022 and 2023 Formula 1 races for Nadine Menendez’s relative. Menendez made comments in favor of Qatar during that period and lobbied Qatari officials to invest in Daibes’ real estate venture, which they ultimately did.

Daibes is described as having sent the senator photos of luxury watches priced between about $10,000 and $24,000, but it is not clear from the filing whether Menendez ever acquired a timepiece.

What is the consideration?

There is a long list of actions that prosecutors say Menendez took in exchange for all these alleged bribes. They allege that Menendez, in his previous role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

…lobbied the US Department of Agriculture to maintain Hana’s monopoly on US halal meat exports to Egypt, even as it drove up prices.

…met Egyptian officials in exchange for cash.

… gave Hana non-secret but also non-public information about employees of the American embassy in Egypt.

…passed information about U.S. military sales to Egypt to Hana and signed off on certain sales.

…lobbied Qataris on behalf of the Daibes real estate program and supported Senate resolutions supporting Qatar.

…attempted to influence lawsuits in New Jersey related to Uribe and his associates. Uribe, remember, is now cooperating with prosecutors.

…tried to disrupt a federal prosecution of Daibes.

Once again, Menendez denies all allegations, and the jury that will hear his side of the story will be selected starting Monday in New York. Nadine Menendez’s trial is scheduled for July.

Perhaps Menendez and his wife can convincingly argue that the mortgage and car payments were a loan. Perhaps Menendez will claim he knew nothing about payments related to dinners and gatherings hosted by his wife. Prosecutors’ envelopes say Daibes’ fingerprints may be harder to explain.

Menendez escaped previous bribery charges

Menendez is used to being under the microscope of federal prosecutors. The Justice Department ultimately decided not to retry Menendez in 2018 after an earlier jury deadlocked over whether he accepted trips and gifts from a friend, an ophthalmologist named Salomon Melgen.

Melgen went to prison as part of a separate Medicare fraud scheme, but that sentence was commuted by then-President Donald Trump after Menendez lobbied on Melgen’s behalf.

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