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Bob Menendez and wife ‘accepted diamond ring and 007 phone’ in bribery scheme

Prosecutors allege Bob Menendez and his wife accepted lavish gifts in exchange for his political influence

Ariana Baio
Wednesday 14 February 2024 17:42 GMT
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Bob Menendez leaves Manhattan court after pleading not guilty to corruption charges

Adding to the growing list of accusations against New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and his wife Nadine Menendez, federal prosecutors are now alleging that the two accepted a diamond engagement ring that was purchased by Wael Hana in exchange for the Democratic lawmaker’s political influence.

The new allegations stem from a document, filed by federal prosecutors on Monday, in response to Mr Menendez and Mr Hana’s requests to suppress evidence seized during searches that they claim were “overbroad”.

In explaining the need for search warrants in the case, prosecutors offered more details about the complicated alleged bribery scheme.

Prosecutors now allege that Mr Hana, an Egyptian-American businessman, facilitated the purchase of a diamond ring as part of an alleged $150,000 bribe in exchange for Mr Menendez’s intervention in matters that benefitted Mr Hana and the Egyptian government.

Prosecutors say some of the alleged $150,000 was used to purchase a Mercedez-Benz convertible while $35,000 was intended to be used to purchase a diamond ring. However, Mr Hana apparently “swindled” Mr Menendez by purchasing a $12,000 diamond ring instead and using the rest of the money to buy himself jewellery – ultimately creating tension between the accused co-conspirators.

“This complaint – that the failure to deliver the full amount of the promised bribe would harm Menendez’s relationship with Egypt – obviously does not undermine the conclusion that Menendez was in a corrupt relationship for the benefit of Egypt,” federal prosecutors wrote.

They added: “It is instead strong proof that he was.”

Sen. Robert Menendez's Co-Defendants Appear For Court Hearing In Bribery Case (Getty Images)

The new filing also includes new details about the search prosecutors conducted inside the Menendez’s home, saying they found two bags filled with approximately $100,000 cash on top of a rack of clothing hangers, four jackets with thousands of dollars in cash in the pockets and four boots stuffed with cash ranging from $5,000 to $50.

In addition, prosecutors said that Ms Menendez used an alternate cell phone – which the Menendezs referred to as her “007” phone, in reference to fictional British spy James Bond – to conduct phone calls.

Bizarrely, the new filing includes allegations that Mr Menendez contacted several New Jersey mayors between late 2020 and early 2021 and attempted to “convince” them to use a laboratory company that was paying his wife to conduct Covid-19 testing.

“What was left out in the summary of the conversation, and not included in the affidavit, was substantial evidence that Menendez did in fact know about the corrupt quid pro quo,” federal prosecutors said in the filing.

So far, Mr Menendez, Ms Menendez, Mr Hana and two other defendants have pled not guilty to all charges.

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