New obstruction of justice crimes levied against Sen. Bob Menendez

FILE - Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Washington. New obstruction of justice crimes were added Tuesday, March 5, 2024, to charges against Menendez and his wife that allege they accepted gold bars, cash and a luxury car in return for favors the senator carried out to assist three businessmen. Both have pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

FILE – Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Washington. New obstruction of justice crimes were added Tuesday, March 5, 2024, to charges against Menendez and his wife that allege they accepted gold bars, cash and a luxury car in return for favors the senator carried out to assist three businessmen. Both have pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife face new charges that they obstructed justice while they were being investigated over allegations that they accepted bribes of gold bars, cash and a luxury car from three favor-seeking New Jersey businessmen.

The obstruction charges were added Tuesday to a rewritten indictment returned against the Democrat and his wife, Nadine.

In a statement, the senator called the additions “a flagrant abuse of power.”

“I am innocent and will prove it no matter how many charges they continue to pile on,” Menendez said.

The new allegations — part of what is now an 18-count indictment — are related to gifts prosecutors say the couple received from Jose Uribe, who pleaded guilty to bribery charges last week and agreed to testify in the corruption case.

During his court appearance Friday, Uribe had described working with Nadine Menendez in 2022 and 2023 to mislead federal prosecutors about a luxury Mercedes-Benz sedan he had purchased for her.

Uribe said he bought the car because Sen. Menendez had used his political influence to stop criminal investigations into two of his associates. But after Uribe got a federal subpoena demanding documents, he assured Nadine Menendez he would tell investigators the auto payments had been a loan.

Nadine Menendez “said that sounded good,” according to prosecutors.

“I knew that giving a car in return for influencing a United States senator to stop a criminal investigation was wrong, and I deeply regret my actions,” Urbe said in court on Friday.

The indictment said Menendez also caused his lawyer to falsely tell prosecutors overseeing the investigation that he was unaware another of his business associates had helped his wife make a $23,000 mortgage payment on her New Jersey home. It said Nadine Menendez caused her lawyer to tell prosecutors last August that the mortgage payment and funds provided for the Mercedes were loans when she knew they were bribes.

Menendez said in a statement that prosecutors have “long known that I learned of and helped repay loans — not bribes — that had been provided to my wife.”

After his fall arrest, Menendez, 70, was forced to relinquish his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but said he would not resign from Congress.

The senator and his wife are scheduled to go on trial in May on an array of corruption allegations. Among other things, Menendez is accused of taking actions that benefited the governments of Egypt and Qatar as a way of helping two New Jersey associates get financial deals linked to those two countries.

According to an indictment, Menendez and his wife accepted gold bars and cash from a real estate developer in return for the senator using his clout to get that businessman a multimillion-dollar deal with a Qatari investment fund.

Menendez was charged with helping another New Jersey business associate get a lucrative deal with the government of Egypt.

An FBI raid on the couple’s home in 2022 resulted in the discovery of over $100,000 in gold bars and more than $480,000 in cash, much of it hidden in closets, clothing and a safe, prosecutors said. Menendez said the cash found in the house was personal savings he had put away for emergencies.

Judge Sidney H. Stein on Monday rejected Menendez’s argument that the search was unconstitutional.

The son of Cuban immigrants, Menendez has held public office continuously since 1986, when he was elected mayor of Union City, New Jersey. In 2006, then-Gov. Jon Corzine appointed Menendez to the Senate seat he vacated when he became governor.

U.S.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed AP

Trending on NewsNation