Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey pleaded not guilty to corruption charges accusing him and his wife of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. Menendez’s attorneys, along with his wife Nadine, entered pleas of not guilty at their arraignment in federal court. The judge approved the conditions of Menendez’s release, including a $100,000 personal bond, travel restrictions, and a requirement to surrender his personal passports. However, Menendez’s wife was granted a $250,000 personal bond.
Three businessmen, Jose Uribe, Fred Daibes, and Wael Hana, also pleaded not guilty to bribery charges. The indictment alleges that the men paid bribes to Menendez. The judge warned the defendants that failure to appear for future court dates or violating the conditions of their release would result in warrants for their arrest and full payment of their bail amounts. Menendez, who faces pressure from his fellow Democratic colleagues to resign, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and expects to be exonerated.
Furthermore, the indictment reveals that federal investigators discovered over $480,000 in cash hidden in the Menendezes’ New Jersey home, along with gold bars, mortgage payments, a luxury vehicle, and various valuable items. Menendez, who formerly chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, claims all the cash found was his own, withdrawn over the past 30 years for emergencies and considering his family’s history. The Senate unanimously passed a resolution removing Menendez from his position as chairman of the committee, but he remains a member. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin is the highest-ranking Democrat to call for Menendez’s resignation, and others have urged the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate. This is Menendez’s second indictment since becoming a senator in 2006, but the previous case ended in a mistrial.