Gold Bullion and Halal Meat: Inside the Menendez Investigation – The New York Times

Robert Menendez Bribery Trial
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Federal prosecutors have accused Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey and his wife, Nadine, of accepting bribes in exchange for official actions by Mr. Menendez.

It was January 2018, and Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey had just won a huge legal victory. His trial on federal bribery charges had ended in a hung jury, and the U.S. Justice Department had announced that it would not seek a new trial. He was free to walk with no criminal conviction, ready to take on another campaign for re-election.
Weeks later, he started dating Nadine Arslanian.
Ms. Arslanian, who would eventually marry Mr. Menendez, quickly introduced him to one of her longtime friends: Wael Hana, an Egyptian American businessman in New Jersey. The future Ms. Menendez was eager to connect her influential new boyfriend with Mr. Hana’s high-level connections in the Egyptian government.
What unfolded in the next four years is what prosecutors described on Friday as a sprawling corruption scheme that would ensnare the halal meat industry, American military aid to Egypt and the appointment of a top New Jersey law enforcement official. Prosecutors accused Mr. Menendez, 69, of abusing his power to influence arms sales to Egypt and to attempt to interfere with criminal investigations into Mr. Hana’s web of business associates.
An F.B.I. search last year of the couple’s New Jersey home revealed some of the fruits of their scheme, prosecutors said. Federal agents found more than $480,000 in cash stuffed throughout the house in envelopes and in the pockets of jackets that were embroidered with the senator’s name. Inside the home were more than $100,000 worth of gold bars, some of which had unique serial numbers that traced back to Mr. Hana. A shiny Mercedes-Benz convertible sat in the garage.
The 39-page indictment — which laid out in painstaking detail a series of deleted text messages, encrypted phone calls and shell company payments — painted a portrait of a couple motivated by relentless greed.
Ms. Menendez, 56, often pestered her associates for more bribe payments, prosecutors said, and did not hesitate to peacock her husband’s influence, once sending a news article to Mr. Hana about $2.5 billion of military sales to Egypt and writing, “Bob had to sign off on this.” The business associates around Mr. Hana seemed to find more and more ways to extract what they needed from Mr. Menendez, as long as they could deliver the cash.
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