New Jersey businessman admits to bribing senator. Bob Menendez with a Mercedes-Benz

A New Jersey businessman confirmed Friday that he bribed the senator. Bob Menendez, telling a jury in the New Jersey Democrat’s corruption trial that he gave the lawmaker’s wife a Mercedes in exchange for his influence.

Jose Uribe, who pleaded guilty in March and is cooperating with prosecutors, was questioned on the witness stand about who he bribed. Uribe told the jury he bribed Menendez and conspired with fellow businessman Wael Hana. Uribe also said the senator’s wife, Nadine Menendez, accepted the bribes he paid. The senator, his wife and Hana have all pleaded not guilty. A third businessman, Fred Daibes, also pleaded not guilty.

José Uribe leaves the federal court in September. September 27, 2023, in New York. Seth Wenig/AP

Menendez and his wife are accused of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes – some in the form of gold bars – in exchange for Menendez’s official acts as senator.

Prosecutors said Uribe, who said he bought a car for Nadine Menendez, sought the senator’s help in holding off a criminal investigation by the New Jersey state attorney general’s office into his associates. Bob Menendez called Gurbir Grewal, then New Jersey’s attorney general, to discuss the matter, according to prosecutors.

Grewal, who now heads enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission, tested Thursday that Menendez’s alleged attempts to discuss a particular ongoing criminal case were “pretty unprecedented in my experience.”

Menendez is also accused of accepting bribes for the Egyptian government.

Next week the truth will come out,” Menendez said as he left court Friday.

A spokesperson for Menendez declined to comment on matters related to the lawsuit. An attorney for the senator did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

Menendez is on trial with Hana and Daibes. Nadine Menendez’s trial has been postponed until at least July following recent treatment for breast cancer.

NBC News previously reported that Menendez could testify that his wife withheld information from him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz argued before a panel of 12 jurors and six alternates in New York at the start of the trial last month that the New Jersey Democrat abused his position as chairman of the Senate Select Committee. foreign relations for “prioritizing greed” and called the senior senator “powerful” and “corrupt.”

Pomerantz also previewed Uribe’s testimony at the start of the trial, saying Uribe would offer jurors “a glimpse” of the project.

In the defense’s opening statement, Menendez’s attorney, Ari Weitzman, said his client did not violate the law.

“There will not be a single tangible proof that the senator took a bribe. There is an innocent explanation for gold and cash,” Weitzman said.

Menendez has served in the Senate since 2006. He resigned as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee shortly after being indicted in September, but has resisted calls for his resignation.

Menendez previously faced a federal charge when he was accused in 2015 of illegally accepting favors from a Florida ophthalmologist, allegations he denied. The case ended in a mistrial, with jurors unable to reach a unanimous verdict and prosecutors choosing not to proceed with a new trial.

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