Sen. Bob Menendez pleaded not guilty to three bribery and corruption charges in a New York federal courthouse Wednesday morning, days after an unsealed indictment alleged the senator received cash, gold bars, and a luxury car in exchange for his political influence.
Menendez, a Democrat, was released on a $100,000 bond and was forced to surrender his personal passport, though he can still travel abroad on official government business. He is also barred from contacting any co-defendants except his wife, Nadine.
Menendez emerged from the Manhattan courthouse Wednesday afternoon holding hands with his wife. They did not speak to reporters.
Federal prosecutors accuse Menendez in a 39-page indictment of a vast corruption scheme, ranging from sharing sensitive U.S. government information with Egyptian officials to accepting bribes in exchange for interfering with criminal prosecutions of two New Jersey businessmen. The indictment includes photos of gold bars and envelopes stuffed with cash that investigators say they found in the senator’s home.
Menendez, who is up for reelection next year, said earlier this week he is confident he will be exonerated. He’s also brushed off mounting calls for him to resign from powerful Democrats, including Sen. Cory Booker and Gov. Phil Murphy. He told reporters Tuesday he won’t step down because “I’m innocent.”
Nadine Menendez and three others — Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes — also face charges related to the case. Hana pleaded not guilty Tuesday following his arrest at JFK International Airport in New York after flying here from Egypt. He was released on a $5 million bond.
Uribe and Daibes also pleaded not guilty Wednesday, as did Nadine Menendez, who was released on a $250,000 bond secured by her personal residence in Englewood Cliffs. She also must surrender her passport and is limited in where she can travel.
This is Menendez’s second corruption case in less than a decade. Prosecutors previously accused him of improperly trading favors with a Florida eye doctor, charges that resulted in a mistrial in 2017.
Republished courest of New Jersey Monitor, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Follow New Jersey Monitor on Facebook and Twitter.