New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez was charged Friday with corruption-related offenses for the second time in 10 years. He previously fought off conspiracy, bribery and honest services fraud charges from the Justice Department related to alleged personal favors.
Menendez is up for reelection next year. He has been in the Senate since 2006. Senate Democratic Caucus rules will force Menendez to step aside as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, but he can still serve on the panel.
Here’s what to know about the charges announced Friday — and what is expected to happen next in the case:
Accusations of corruption: Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, are accused of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” in exchange for the senator’s influence, according to the newly unsealed federal indictment. Prosecutors allege the bribes included gold, cash, home mortgage payments, compensation for a “low-or-no-show job” and a luxury vehicle.
Menendez is charged with three alleged crimes, including being on the receiving end of a bribery conspiracy. The conspiracy counts also charge his wife Nadine, and three people described as New Jersey associates and businessmen, Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes. The group is accused of coordinating to use Menendez’s power as a US senator to benefit them personally and to benefit Egypt.
Searches turned up $500,000 in cash and more: According to the indictment, searches of Menendez’ home and safe deposit box that federal agents conducted in 2022 turned up nearly $500,000 in cash, including in envelopes inside jackets emblazoned with Menendez’s name. Prosecutors say some of the envelopes had the fingerprints or DNA of one of the business contacts from whom the senator is accused of taking bribes.
The federal investigators who searched Menendez’s home also found a “luxury vehicle paid for by [Jose] Uribe parked in the garage,” as well as home furnishings from other business contacts and gold bars.
Menendez slams indictment: In a statement Friday, the senator criticized the indictment and the charges against him. “The excesses of these prosecutors is apparent,” he said. “They have misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office. On top of that, not content with making false claims against me, they have attacked my wife for the longstanding friendships she had before she and I even met.”
First court appearance next week: Menendez, his wife and the three New Jersey businessmen they were indicted alongside them will appear in federal court at 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to the US attorney’s office.
All five defendants indicted on Friday could face up to 20 years behind bars if convicted on the conspiracy to commit honest services fraud charge — and five years if convicted on the conspiracy to commit bribery charge.
Federal prosecutors said the investigation into Menendez is “very much ongoing” and called on the public and additional witnesses to come forward.