Democrat Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and his wife, have been indicted Friday on bribery charges by federal prosecutors in a Manhattan court. The charges come after a yearlong investigation “that examined, among other things, the dealings of a New Jersey businessman — a friend of Menendez’s wife — who secured sole authorization from the Egyptian government to certify that meat imported into that country meets Islamic dietary requirements. Investigators also asked questions about the Menendez family’s interactions with a New Jersey developer” reports the Associated Press.
Prosecutors said a search of Bob Menendez’s home turned up $100,000 in gold bars and $480,000 in hidden cash. Menendez, 69, faces re-election next year, hoping to continues his three-decade career in Washington. This is not the first time Menendez has been in severe legal trouble.
in 2015 a federal grand jury in New Jersey indicted him on multiple charges over favors he did for a friend, Dr. Salomon Melgen. “Menendez was accused of pressuring government officials to resolve a Medicare billing dispute in Melgen’s favor, securing visas for the doctor’s girlfriends and helping protect a contract the doctor had to provide port-screening equipment to the Dominican Republic” writes the AP.
The Associated Press reports:
His lawyers said campaign contributions and gifts from Melgen — which included trips on his private jet to a resort in the Dominican Republic and a vacation in Paris — were tokens of their longtime friendship, not bribes. Prosecutors dropped the case after a jury deadlocked in November 2017 on charges including bribery, fraud and conspiracy, and a judge dismissed some counts.
The Senate Ethics Committee later rebuked Menendez, finding that he had improperly accepted gifts, failed to disclose them and then used his influence to advance Melgen’s personal interests. But months later, New Jersey voters returned Menendez to the Senate. He defeated a well-financed challenger in a midterm election that broke a Republican lock on power in Washington.
Melgen was convicted of health care fraud in 2017 but former President Donald Trump commuted his prison sentence.
The Senate Historical Office says Menendez is the first sitting senator in U.S. history to have been indicted on two unrelated criminal allegations.