Federal prosecutors on Friday announced corruption charges against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and his wife, alleging they took bribes in exchange for favors the senator doled out using the power of his office.
The 39-page indictment lays out various alleged schemes involving Menendez, wife Nadine Menendez and three New Jersey businessmen that led investigators to discover stacks of cash and gold bars inside the senator’s home.
In a defiant statement, Menendez suggested there’s some sort of conspiracy against him, saying “those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator and serve with honor and distinction.”
Menendez could now face years in prison, not to mention the possible end of his political career. Here are five of the most shocking details from the indictment.
Wads of Cash
During a June 2022 search of the Menendez home, authorities said they found nearly half a million dollars in cash, “much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe.”
Among the articles of clothing allegedly used to hide the money? A navy blue jacket emblazoned with the senator’s name and a black jacket stitched with SENATOR MENENDEZ. The indictment includes photos of the garments with the cash removed from envelopes and placed on top.
In addition to all the dollars, investigators said they discovered furniture, a Mercedes convertible parked in the garage, and more than $100,000 worth of gold bars that allegedly were given to Menendez and his wife by their business partners. One of those partners was an Egyptian-American who allegedly funneled sensitive information from Menendez to the Egyptian government.
A Ghostwritten Letter
Prosecutors say that in 2018, Menendez’s now-wife Nadine, at the time his girlfriend, told the senator that Egyptian officials needed help drafting a letter asking other senators to support U.S. aid to Egypt. In response, according to the indictment, the senator “secretly edited and ghost-wrote the requested letter on behalf of Egypt seeking to convince other U.S. Senators to release a hold on $300 million in aid to Egypt.” Bob and Nadine Menendez got married in 2020.
A Golden Google Search
Bob Menendez allegedly intervened in a federal criminal investigation of Fred Daibes, a New Jersey developer reported to have ties to organized crime, including by recommending President Joe Biden appoint a more sympathetic prosecutor. In exchange, Daibes provided cash and gold, according to the indictment.
The day after getting a ride home from the airport from a driver who worked for Daibes in October 2021, Menendez allegedly conducted “a web search for ‘how much is one kilo of gold worth’” and later searched “kilo of gold price.” The senator apparently did not clear his browser history; his wife wound up selling some of the gold bars to a jeweler, authorities said.
Daibes pleaded guilty to participating in an insider loan scam last year.
Menendez Had Just Dodged Unrelated Corruption Allegations
One of the most remarkable things about the indictment is that it describes allegedly criminal behavior by Menendez starting in March 2018, less than half a year after a previous unrelated federal corruption case against Menendez had ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury.
If convicted, Menendez faces years in prison for conspiracies to commit bribery, extortion and honest services fraud.