The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is reviewing allegations that U.S. Senator Bob Menendez attempted to pressure Gurbir Grewal, a former state attorney general, into intervening in a criminal case for a man that was also named in today’s indictment.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“The allegations are deeply disturbing to me and my Office, and we are already in the process of reviewing the concerns raised by the indictment. As the now unsealed indictment makes clear, there are allegations that Menendez attempted to pressure a senior member of this Office under a prior administration,” Attorney General Matt Platkin said in a statement.
“The conduct alleged in the indictment occurred prior to my tenure as Attorney General, and involved a matter that was resolved prior to my time in office. My Office has cooperated fully with the Southern District of New York’s investigation. We will continue to do so. We are also engaged in our own independent internal inquiry into the allegations set forth in the indictment.”
He continued that holding public office is a privilege and anyone who abuses that power deprives residents of honest services, therefore, “these are not victimless crimes” and public corruption therefore won’t be tolerated by the AG’s office at any level.
The indictment charges Menendez and his wife Nadine are charged with a three-count federal indictment for allegedly accepting corrupt payments from three New Jersey businessmen at least in part to help with business arrangements in Egypt.
The couple are each charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color and official right.
They are accused of having a “corrupt relationship” with New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes. Those three are charged with the first two counts.
According to the indictment, Uribe had Menendez agree to “interfere in a New Jersey state criminal prosecution” of an associate. He then contacted a senior state prosecutor at the AG’s office, official 2, who sources have identified as former AG Gurbir Grewal.
The defendant was a relative who worked at Uribe’s insurance company and he was implicated in the case, prompting him to ask Hana for help, who then allegedly approached Menendez.
“Menendez called Official-2 and spoke with him in an attempt, through advice and pressure, to cause a resolution of the prosecution in the New Jersey Defendant’s favor,” the indictment charges.
“In preparation for this call, Menendez requested and received multiple text messages from Nadine Menendez about the New Jersey Defendant, including the charges he was facing, which Nadine Menendez, in turn, requested and received from Hana.”
The Menendezes both then allegedly deleted the text messages.
Grewal did not share information with his prosecution team that Menendez had contacted him and he also choose not to intervene.
“Nonetheless, in or about April 2019, the New Jersey Defendant resolved his criminal prosecution with a guilty plea pursuant to a plea agreement that recommended a non-incarceratory sentence,” court documents say.
“This resolution was more favorable for the New Jersey Defendant than the prosecutors’ initial plea offer earlier in the case.”
Uribe is also accused of facilitating getting Nadine Menendez a Mercedes-Benz convertible.
Overall, the indictment charges that the Menendezes accepted corrupt payments for their mortgage, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300, $486,471 in cash, another $79,760 from the safe deposit box, two one-kilogram gold bars, and 11 one-ounce gold bars.
Under then-New Jersey Attorney General Paula T. Dow, a Jose Uribe from Union City pleaded guilty to third-degree theft by deception.
“At the guilty plea hearing, Uribe, a former insurance producer for the now defunct Inter America Insurance Agency, LLC, admitted that between May 30, 2003 and Feb. 22, 2010, he obtained $76,819 in insurance premiums from seven clients by creating the false impression that he was remitting the monies to insurance carriers to secure commercial automobile insurance,” the AG’s office said at the time.
“In reality, he did not remit the premium payments to the insurance carriers.”