Menendez Released on Bond After Pleading Not Guilty

Judge restricts senator's international travel
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 22, 2023 9:27 AM CDT
Updated Sep 27, 2023 1:38 PM CDT
New Jersey Sen. Menendez Indicted on Bribery Charges
Nadine Menendez leaves federal court with Sen. Bob Menendez, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in New York.   (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)
UPDATE Sep 27, 2023 1:38 PM CDT

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez pleaded not guilty Wednesday in his first court appearance since he was indicted on bribery and extortion charges last week. The senator's wife and three New Jersey businesspeople named in the indictment have also pleaded not guilty, Politico reports. All five defendants are expected to return to Manhattan federal court for a hearing Monday, reports the New York Times. Menendez was released on a $100,000 bond and his wife, Nadine, was released on a $250,000 bond. Magistrate Judge Ona Wang ordered the senator to surrender his personal passport but he is being allowed to keep his official passport. The judge said he can travel overseas for official business only, and only if the court is notified in advance.

Sep 22, 2023 9:27 AM CDT

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife have been indicted on charges of bribery. Federal prosecutors on Friday announced the charges against the 69-year-old Democrat nearly six years after an earlier criminal case against him ended with a deadlocked jury, reports the AP. They said a search of Bob Menendez's home turned up $100,000 in gold bars and $480,000 in hidden cash. The latest indictment is unrelated to the earlier charges that alleged Menendez accepted lavish gifts to pressure government officials on behalf of a Florida doctor. The Senate Historical Office says Menendez appears to be the first sitting senator in US history to have been indicted on two unrelated criminal allegations. Menendez faces reelection next year in a bid to extend his three-decade career in Washington, and as Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Senate.

The first time Menendez was indicted, he had been accused of using his political influence to help a Florida eye doctor who had lavished him with gifts and campaign contributions. The new charges follow a yearslong investigation that examined, among other things, the dealings of a New Jersey businessman—a friend of Menendez's wife—who secured sole authorization from the Egyptian government to certify that meat imported into that country meets Islamic dietary requirements. Investigators also asked questions about the Menendez family's interactions with a New Jersey developer.

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Menendez's political career had looked as though it might be over in 2015, when a federal grand jury in New Jersey indicted him on multiple charges over favors he did for a friend, Dr. Salomon Melgen. Menendez was accused of pressuring government officials to resolve a Medicare billing dispute in Melgen's favor, securing visas for the doctor's girlfriends, and helping protect a contract the doctor had to provide port-screening equipment to the Dominican Republic. Menendez has always maintained his innocence. His lawyers said campaign contributions and gifts from Melgen—which included trips on his private jet to a resort in the Dominican Republic and a vacation in Paris—were tokens of their longtime friendship, not bribes. Prosecutors dropped the case after a jury deadlocked in 2017 and a judge dismissed some counts.

(Read more Bob Menendez stories.)

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