An Egyptian businessman accused of bribing New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez for legislative favors was arrested at New York’s JFK International Tuesday morning.
The arrest, the 40-year-old’s lawyer said, came after Wael Hana voluntarily flew to the city to face the federal charges – part of a sprawling, three-part indictment filed by the US attorney’s office.
In it, federal prosecutors allege the Egypt national was one of three New Jersey businessmen who collectively paid hundreds of thousands to Menendez, 69, over the course of several years, in the form of cash, gold, and even a Mercedes Benz.
The bribes, fed say, came in exchange for Menendez agreeing to use his power and influence to personally enrich Hana, and to benefit the Government of Egypt.
Hours after being cuffed by feds in Queens, Hana pleaded not guilty to the allegations before a federal magistrate judge, who ordered him released on a $5million bond, on the condition he surrender his travel documents.
40-year-old Wael Hana was arrested at JFK in New York Tuesday morning after the Egypt national – who now lives in New Hersey voluntarily flew to the city to face the federal charges, part of a sprawling, three-part indictment filed by the US attorney’s office.
He’s accused of bribing Bob Menendez for legislative favors, in a plot where Menendez to use his power and influence – who until his indictment as the most powerful person in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to enrich Hana, while also benefiting the Government of Egypt
Hana complied, and also agreed to be subject to constant GPS monitoring via a device that must be worn at all times, and a curfew at his New Jersey home from 8pm to 8am.
He’s accused of helping facilitate meetings and dinners between Menendez, the senator’s wife Nadine, and Egyptian military and intelligence officials in a secret bid to increase US aid to Egypt.
At the meetings, officials pressed the senator – who until his indictment was the most powerful person in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – to sign off on military aid Washington had withheld over concerns about Egypt’s human rights record.
In exchange, prosecutors allege, Hana put Nadine – who began dating the senator in 2018 before marrying in 2020 – on the payroll of a company he controlled.
That company – identified in the indictment as New Jersey-based IS EG Halal – had the exclusive right to certify halal meat shipped to Egypt from the US.
As the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez – who has enjoyed his seat since 2006 – held sway over various military sales, financing and other aid.
Using this influence, feds allege the senator – who is now facing calls to step down from Democrats – sought to pressure an official at the Department of Agriculture in an effort to protect Hana’s business, and disrupted a criminal case undertaken by the New Jersey AG related to associates of another one of the businessmen, Jose Uribe.
A 56-year-old former insurance agent from Union City and Hana’s business associate, Uribe – who has also been arrested – was introduced to the senator by Hana, prosecutors said.
Hours after being cuffed by feds in Queens, Hana pleaded not guilty to the allegations before a federal magistrate judge, who ordered him released on a $5million bond. Hana, who now has to wear a monitoring device and had to surrender his passport, is seen leaving court Tuesday
Hana – seen at center – is accused of helping facilitate meetings and dinners between Menendez, the senator’s wife Nadine, and Egyptian military and intelligence officials in a secret bid to increase US aid to Egypt
It is then alleged that Uribe asked the senator to intervene in the state attorney general’s prosecution of one of his colleagues accused of insurance fraud, In exchange for $15,000 in cash that she used to make a down payment on a Mercedes-Benz C-class convertible.
Prosecutors said that Nadine then texted her husband, ‘Congratulations mon amour de la vie, we are the proud owners of a 2019 Mercedes.’
The last person named in the indictment, local real estate developer and longtime Menendez associate Fred Daibes, is charged with taking part in an insider loan scam at Mariner’s Bank, in which he reportedly asked Menedez to intervene in exchange for cash, furniture, and gold bars.
The scheme allegedly saw Menedez recommend a candidate for U.S. Attorney in New Jersey whom the senator could influence in Phillip Sellinger, who successfully became the top federal prosecutor in the state.
According to a report from NJ.com, Daibes pleaded guilty in 2022 to one count of concealing a $1.8 million bank loan made to him – in exchange for the government dropping the remaining 13 counts against him and promising not to seek a prison term.
All are expected to appear in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday to face charges including conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.
Authorities found two one-kilogram gold bars and eleven one-ounce gold bars in Menendez’s home during a June 2022 search. The gold bars were part of the hundreds of thousands in bribes the couple allegedly accepted
Senator Menendez and his wife Nadine are charged with accepting gold bars as bribes
Cash was found in envelopes during a June 2022 raid of Menendez home; Menendez claims it was from his personal savings
Bob and Nadine Menendez also each face one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right – a charge that itself can warrant a 20-year prison sentence,
Altogether, the pair each face up to 45 years in a federal lockup, with both pleading not guilty – despite the bevy of evidence being held against them.
Legal experts have also claimed Menendez should be worried about the charges; Joseph Tully, a San Francisco criminal defense attorney said the ‘monster’ indictment is ‘very strong’.
‘The indictment charges Robert Menendez, his wife, Nadine Menendez, as well as three businessmen, Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes, who are accused of being co-conspirators,’ Tully told Fox.
‘Sen. Menendez faces up to 45 years if convicted of all charges.’
Similarly, David Gelman, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, told Fox he thinks Menendez ‘should be very concerned right now about these charges.’
He said: ‘The charges are extremely serious and directly touch upon his public office.
‘However, it’s not the first time the senator has faced such allegations.
‘If he were to resign, then the governor could appoint a replacement until the end of his term.’
Yet another Democrat has demanded New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez – seen here on Monday – resign following his indictment on federal bribery charges last week
Aired by Vermont’s Peter Welch Monday, the call is the third from a Democratic senator in a matter of days, and comes on the heels of near-identical statements from both John Fetterman and Sherrod Brown
And former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis told ‘Cavuto Live’ the evidence against Menendez was ‘the strongest [he’s] ever seen.’
Set to appear in Manhattan federal court Wednesday to face the allegations, Menendez on Monday continued to face pressure from his fellow progressives to resign.
Vermont Sen. Peter Welch, a 76-year-old who has served his state for nearly as long as Menendez, started by saying his colleague is ‘entitled to the presumption of innocence’ before making his true feelings known – insisting the Senate is ‘entitled’ to an ‘effective’ senator.
He wrote on X, formerly Twitter: ‘The shocking and specific allegations against Senator Menendez have wholly compromised his capacity to be that effective senator.
‘I encourage Senator Menendez to resign.’
The demand echoed statements from both Brown, 70, and Fetterman, 54, over the weekend and early Monday, after US Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York unveiled the three-count indictment.
‘He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence under our system, but he is not entitled to continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations,’ Fetterman said in a statement Saturday.
Earlier Monday, Brown insisted that Menendez ‘[had] broken the public trust and should resign from the U.S. Senate’.
Senator Menendez proclaimed his innocence in a press conference in New Jersey Monday – his first public statement since being hit with the three-count indictment on Sunday
Former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis told Fox News Saturday that the evidence against the senator is ‘the strongest [he’s] ever seen’
The criminal indictment claimed the New Jersey senator Googled ‘How much is one kilo of gold worth?’ after arriving home from a trip to Egypt in October 2021.
Multiple gold bars were found during a court-authorized search of the couple’s home in June 2022. The gold bars were part of the hundreds of thousands in bribes the couple are accused of accepting.
Menendez Googled the price of gold another time, soon after his wife thanked Fred Daibes, a New Jersey businessman and longtime Menendez associate, for ‘Christmas in January,’ according to the document.
Daibes and two others were involved in paying ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes’ in exchange for the senator using his power to secretly benefit the Egyptian government, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors also accused Menendez of seeking to influence an ongoing federal prosecution of Daibes.
Menendez and his wife were accused of corruption allegations on Friday, involving the purchase of a luxury car, $400,000 in gold bars and cash, plus payments toward a home mortgage allegedly received by Menendez and his wife.
The indictment claims the couple had an improper relationship with three New Jersey businessmen: Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes, who allegedly paid the couple in exchange for Menendez to use his influence in Washington D.C. to their benefit.
Pictured: Senator Bob Menendez home in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. The indictment was released Friday as Menendez and his wife face three criminal counts each for their part in the alleged bribery scheme after a year long investigation
Pictured: Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., right, and his wife Nadine Arslanian. A criminal indictment claimed the New Jersey senator googled ‘How much is one kilo of gold worth?’ after arriving home from a trip to Egypt in October 2021
The couple face three criminal counts each: conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.
The three businessmen face charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.
In a statement on Friday, Menendez denied any wrongdoing.
‘Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first generation Latin American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. senator.’
‘I have been falsely accused before because I refused to back down to the powers that be and the people of New Jersey were able to see through the smoke and mirrors and recognize I was innocent,’ he said.
He added he would not be ‘distracted by baseless allegations’ but continue his work as senator.