U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, his wife and 3 New Jersey businessmen, have been charged with bribery offenses

It is alleged that Robert Menendez agreed to leverage his official position to benefit individuals Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, Fred Daibes, and the Government of Egypt in exchange for receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.

These bribes included various forms such as gold bars, cash, and a luxury convertible. Additionally, these bribes were also extended to Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez.

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James Smith, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), have announced the unsealing of an indictment. This indictment charges U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, his wife Nadine Menendez (also known as Nadine Arslanian), and three New Jersey businessmen, Wael Hana (also known as Will Hana), Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes, with involvement in a long-running bribery scheme.

The indictment alleges that Senator Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, received substantial bribes, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, from Hana, Uribe, and Daibes. In exchange, Senator Menendez is accused of using his official position to protect, enrich, and benefit these individuals and the Government of Egypt.

 

This included actions such as attempting to influence a senior official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to safeguard a business monopoly granted to Hana by Egypt, interfering with a criminal case pursued by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office related to Uribe’s associates, and obstructing a federal criminal prosecution initiated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey against Daibes.

Menendez, Nadine Menendez, Hana, Uribe, and Daibes are scheduled to appear in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. The case will be presided over by U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As the grand jury charged, between 2018 and 2022, Senator Menendez and his wife engaged in a corrupt relationship with Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes – three New Jersey businessmen who collectively paid hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes, including cash, gold, a Mercedes Benz, and other things of value – in exchange for Senator Menendez agreeing to use his power and influence to protect and enrich those businessmen and to benefit the Government of Egypt.  My Office is firmly committed to rooting out corruption, without fear or favor, and without any regard to partisan politics.  We will continue to do so.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith stated, “The FBI has consistently made investigating public corruption a top priority since our establishment, and that commitment remains unchanged. The alleged actions in this conspiracy erode public trust in our government system and unfairly cast doubt on the integrity of honest and dedicated public servants who carry out their responsibilities diligently. To individuals who may consider exploiting their public office for personal gain or those who offer bribes to seek influence from public officials, the FBI will ensure that you are held accountable within the criminal justice system for your unethical activities.”

According to the allegations outlined in the unsealed indictment in Manhattan federal court:

Robert Menendez serves as the senior U.S. Senator from New Jersey and is currently the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC). Nadine Menendez began her relationship with Robert Menendez in February 2018, and they became engaged in October 2019, ultimately getting married in October 2020.

Shortly after they began dating in 2018, Nadine Menendez introduced Robert Menendez to her long-time friend Wael Hana, who originally hails from Egypt, resides in New Jersey, and maintains close connections with Egyptian officials. Hana is also business associates with Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer and a long-time contributor to Menendez, and Jose Uribe, who is involved in the New Jersey insurance and trucking industry.

Between 2018 and 2022, Robert Menendez and Nadine Menendez allegedly agreed to and accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bribes from Hana, Daibes, and Uribe. These bribes included gold, cash, a luxury convertible, contributions towards Nadine Menendez’s home mortgage, payments for a job with little to no actual work for Nadine Menendez, home furnishings, and various other valuable items.

In June 2022, the FBI conducted a search at the Menendez residence in New Jersey, during which they discovered numerous items associated with this bribery scheme, such as cash, gold, the luxury convertible, and home furnishings. Over $480,000 in cash was found, with a significant portion concealed in envelopes hidden within clothing, closets, and a safe.

An additional sum exceeding $70,000 in cash was located in a safe deposit box belonging to Nadine Menendez, which was also searched under a separate warrant. Some of the envelopes containing cash bore the fingerprints and/or DNA of Daibes or his driver, and others were found inside jackets bearing Menendez’s name and hanging in his closet.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, his wife and three New Jersey businessmen, have been charged with bribery offenses

During the same search, agents discovered home furnishings supplied by Hana and Daibes, the luxury vehicle paid for by Uribe parked in the garage, and over one hundred thousand dollars’ worth of gold bars in the home. These gold bars were provided by either Hana or Daibes. Two of the gold bars supplied by Daibes are shown in the photographs below.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, his wife and three New Jersey businessmen, have been charged with bribery offenses

In exchange for these valuables and other benefits, Menendez allegedly agreed to leverage his authority and influence as a Senator to advance the interests of Hana, Uribe, Daibes, and to serve the interests of the Government of Egypt. This corrupt relationship involved Menendez taking a series of official actions and violating his official duties.

First, Menendez is accused of taking actions intended to favor the Government of Egypt and Hana, including improperly exerting pressure on a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) official in an attempt to safeguard a business monopoly granted to Hana by Egypt.

Second, Menendez allegedly took actions aimed at obstructing a criminal investigation conducted by the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General (NJAG) related to Uribe and his associates.

Third, Menendez purportedly recommended that the President nominate a U.S. Attorney whom he believed he could influence regarding Daibes and sought to interfere with a federal criminal prosecution led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey (USAO-DNJ) involving Daibes.

The senator and his co-defendants are scheduled to make their appearance in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in lower Manhattan at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, where they will be arraigned later that day.

Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the charges during a news conference on Friday. Williams highlighted that Menendez’s Senate website explicitly states that he cannot use his authority to influence matters concerning private businesses, compel agencies to act in someone’s favor, or intervene in criminal matters. However, the allegations assert that behind the scenes, Senator Menendez was allegedly engaged in these activities for specific individuals—those who were allegedly providing bribes to him and his wife.

Williams emphasized that the investigation into this case is ongoing and urged anyone with knowledge of the matter to contact the FBI’s tip line.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez charged bribery offenses

One of the notable allegations in the indictment is that Menendez is accused of providing sensitive U.S. Government information and taking covert actions that benefited the Government of Egypt. It also alleges that he exerted pressure on a U.S. Agriculture Department official to protect a business monopoly granted to Hana, an Egyptian American.

According to the indictment, Hana and Nadine Menendez had been friends for many years before she began dating the senator. In early 2018, she informed Hana about her relationship with Menendez, and in the subsequent months and years, they collaborated to introduce Egyptian intelligence and military officials to the senator. This was allegedly done with the aim of establishing and reinforcing a corrupt agreement in which Hana, with the assistance of the two other businessmen, allegedly provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to the senator and his wife.

In return, Menendez is alleged to have taken actions and breached his official duties to benefit the Government of Egypt, Hana, and others, including matters related to foreign military sales and foreign military financing.

Following Nadine Menendez’s relationship with Senator Menendez in 2018, she allegedly collaborated with Wael Hana to introduce Egyptian intelligence and military officials to the senator. These introductions were believed to establish a corrupt agreement in which Hana, with the assistance of Fred Daibes and Jose Uribe, allegedly provided bribes to Senator Menendez and Nadine Menendez. In return, Senator Menendez is accused of taking actions to benefit Egypt, Hana, and others, which included providing sensitive, non-public U.S. government information.

For instance, in May 2018, Senator Menendez allegedly provided Egyptian officials with non-public information regarding the number and nationalities of individuals serving at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. While this information wasn’t classified, it was considered highly sensitive due to potential operational security concerns if disclosed to a foreign government. Senator Menendez sent this information to his then-girlfriend, Nadine Menendez, who forwarded it to Hana, who then relayed it to an Egyptian government official.

Senator Menendez is also alleged to have ghost-written a letter in support of Egypt, urging other U.S. Senators to release a hold on $300 million in aid. He sent this letter to Nadine Menendez, who forwarded it to Hana, who in turn sent it to Egyptian officials.

Between 2018 and 2022, Senator Menendez purportedly conveyed to Egyptian officials, through Nadine Menendez, Hana, and/or Daibes, that he could approve or remove holds on foreign military financing and sales of military equipment to Egypt, leveraging his role in the SFRC. In one instance, he texted Nadine Menendez in July 2018, indicating his intention to approve a multimillion-dollar weapons sale to Egypt following meetings with Egyptian officials. Nadine Menendez forwarded this message to Hana, who shared it with two Egyptian officials, receiving a “thumbs up” emoji in response. Such communications reportedly continued in the subsequent years.

In exchange for these actions, Hana promised payments to Nadine Menendez, including contributions from IS EG Halal Certified, Inc., a New Jersey company with Hana’s involvement and financial support from Daibes. IS EG Halal received a monopoly on certifying U.S. food exports to Egypt as compliant with halal standards, generating revenue. This revenue allowed Hana to fulfill his promises to Nadine Menendez.

Furthermore, after the mortgage company for Nadine Menendez’s residence initiated foreclosure proceedings, Hana caused IS EG Halal to pay approximately $23,000 to bring the mortgage current in July 2019. Later that year, Hana and Daibes caused IS EG Halal to issue three $10,000 checks to Nadine Menendez for a job with minimal or no work involved. As the scheme continued, Menendez and Nadine Menendez received additional bribes, including gold and cash.

The indictment also mentions that Hana and Uribe offered to assist in purchasing a new Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible worth over $60,000 for Menendez and Nadine Menendez. In exchange, Menendez allegedly agreed to interfere in the New Jersey Attorney General’s criminal insurance fraud prosecution of an associate of Uribe and a related investigation involving an employee of Uribe.

Menendez reportedly contacted a senior state prosecutor involved in the prosecution, seeking a more favorable resolution for the defendant. Despite his efforts, the prosecutor did not intervene, and the case was ultimately resolved with a plea that did not involve jail time, and the investigation did not result in charges against Uribe’s employee.

In return for Menendez’s actions, Uribe provided Nadine Menendez with $15,000 in cash for the down payment on the luxury convertible in April 2019. Nadine Menendez celebrated the purchase and shared the news with Senator Menendez.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, his wife and three New Jersey businessmen, have been charged with bribery offenses

Subsequently, Uribe proceeded to make monthly payments to Mercedes-Benz for the convertible from 2019 until June 2022. These payments continued until Uribe ceased making monthly payments only after the FBI engaged with Menendez, Nadine Menendez, and Uribe in connection with the ongoing investigation.

In October 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey (USAO-DNJ) brought federal criminal charges against Daibes for allegedly obtaining loans under false pretenses from a New Jersey-based bank that he had founded. Between December 2020 and 2022, Menendez allegedly agreed to attempt to influence the pending federal prosecution of Daibes in exchange for cash, furniture, and gold bars provided to both Menendez and Nadine Menendez by Daibes.

To advance this aspect of the scheme, Menendez purportedly recommended an individual (referred to as “Official-3”) for nomination as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. Menendez believed that he could potentially influence Official-3 in relation to Daibes’s case. Additionally, Menendez had direct and indirect communications with both Official-3 and another high-ranking official at the USAO-DNJ (referred to as “Official-4”) in an effort to affect the outcome of Daibes’s case.

It’s noted that Official-3 and Official-4 did not inform the prosecution team at the USAO-DNJ handling Daibes’s case about Menendez’s contact with them. Furthermore, they did not treat the case differently as a result of Menendez’s actions. Ultimately, Daibes’s case was resolved with a plea agreement that resulted in a probationary sentence. In return for Menendez’s participation in the alleged bribery scheme, Daibes allegedly provided Menendez and Nadine Menendez with various items of value, including the two one-kilogram gold bars depicted below.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, charged bribery offenses

Robert Menendez, aged 69, from Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, is facing the following charges:
– One count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
– One count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
– One count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Nadine Menendez, aged 56, also from Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, is charged with the same offenses as Robert Menendez.

Wael Hana, aged 40, formerly of Edgewater, New Jersey, and originally from Egypt, along with Jose Uribe, aged 56, from Clifton, New Jersey, and Fred Daibes, aged 66, from Edgewater, New Jersey, all face the following charges:
– One count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
– One count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

It’s important to note that the statutory maximum penalties mentioned here are provided for informational purposes and will ultimately be determined by a judge during sentencing.

The FBI conducted the investigation, with invaluable assistance from the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. The case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit, with prosecution led by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eli J. Mark, Paul Monteleoni, Lara Pomerantz, and Daniel C. Richenthal.

These charges are accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Information Collecte from United State Attorney's Office Southern District of New York. 
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