U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damien Williams says that the corruption probe into U.S. Senator Bob Menendez “is very much ongoing.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Now I want to make a couple of things very clear: First, my office remains firmly committed to rooting out public corruption without fear or favor or without any regard to partisan politics. That’s in our DNA: always has been, always will be,” Williams said at a press conference at his office that streamed live on Facebook.
“And second, this investigation is very much ongoing, we are not done. And I want to encourage anyone with information to come forward and to come forward quickly and they can do that by reaching out to the FBI’s tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI.”
The three-count indictment charges Menendez and his wife 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.
” … [The Menendezes] agreed to and did accept hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for using Menendez’s power and influence as a Senator to seek to protect and enrich Hana, Uribe, and Daibes and to benefit the Arab Republic of Egypt,” the indictment says.
“Those bribes included cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value.”
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.
In a lengthy statement, Menendez claimed the prosecutors did not present facts and that he has been wrongfully accused.
“For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave. Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists,” he began.
“I have been falsely accused before because I refused to back down to the powers that be and the people of New Jersey were able to see through the smoke and mirrors and recognize I was innocent … I remain focused on continuing this important work and will not be distracted by baseless allegations. They wrote these charges as they wanted; the facts are not as presented. Prosecutors did that the last time and look what a trial demonstrates.”
Menendez was charged with bribery by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2015, accused of performing official favors for his friend and co-defendant Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, but that ended in a hung jury in late 2017.
While New Jersey’s senior senator has no plans to resign, he will be leaving his post as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.