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Prosecutors add obstruction of justice to Menendez charges

Another superseding indictment in the bribery case against the New Jersey Democrat

Sen. Bob Menendez now faces 16 criminal counts that range from acting as a foreign agent to benefit Egypt and Qatar to extortion and bribery.
Sen. Bob Menendez now faces 16 criminal counts that range from acting as a foreign agent to benefit Egypt and Qatar to extortion and bribery. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Federal prosecutors tacked on a swarm of additional charges Tuesday against Sen. Bob Menendez in yet another superseding indictment, including allegations that he obstructed justice and acted as a foreign agent.

The New Jersey Democrat and onetime chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee now faces 16 criminal counts that range from acting as a foreign agent to benefit Egypt and Qatar to extortion and bribery.

Menendez has pleaded not guilty and said he would fight the charges and be exonerated, and he has resisted calls from some Democratic colleagues to resign.

The new indictment comes days after one of Menendez’s co-defendants, Jose Uribe, pleaded guilty to several charges that included conspiracy to bribe Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, with a Mercedes-Benz convertible. The new indictment states that Uribe and another co-defendant, Wael Hana, helped to buy the $60,000 convertible for Menendez and his wife in exchange for the senator’s effort to disrupt criminal matters of interest to Hana and Uribe in New Jersey.

Menendez and his wife, who is also facing additional charges, including obstruction of justice, tried to return the bribe money they received and met with a top U.S. attorney to falsely inform that official that payments for a mortgage and a Mercedes-Benz were loans and not bribes, the indictment states. The senator and Nadine Menendez, according to the indictment, sought to return the bribe money Hana had a company, IS EG Halal, pay to a mortgage company in July 2019 to avoid foreclosure on Nadine Menendez’s home.

When the Menendezes returned the money, they called it a loan repayment in a December 2022 check the senator wrote to his wife for $23,569, which she deposited before writing a $23,568 check to Hana’s lawyer, described as “Full payment of Wael Hana loan,” the indictment states.

In December 2022, the senator and Nadine sought to return to Uribe some of the bribe money he used to get the Mercedes-Benz convertible for them and falsely described returning the bribe money as a loan repayment, the indictment states. The senator cut a check to his wife for $23,000 with the memo line “for car payment”, which she deposited, and then Nadine Menendez wrote Uribe a check for $21,000, describing it as for a “personal loan,” payments they both knew were bribes, the indictment states.

The senator had his then-lawyer meet with the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in June and September 2023 to tell that official that the senator was unaware, until 2022, of a $23,568 payment that Hana facilitated to be made to the company holding the mortgage of Nadine Menendez or the money Uribe paid for the Mercedes-Benz, the indictment states.

Menendez also had his attorney say, at the September 2023 meeting, that he learned the payments were loans, but in reality, the senator knew those payments were bribes, the indictment states.

The charges in the new indictment expand on what was included in earlier indictments that allege Menendez took gifts from a real estate developer and Qatari investment company related to his public actions to benefit that government and that he acted on behalf of the Egyptian government.

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