Democratic Senator Bob Menendez Googled how much a kilo of gold is worth numerous times amid an alleged bribery scheme he and his wife were involved in.
The indictment was released Friday, with Menendez, 69, and his wife facing three criminal counts each for their part in the alleged bribery scheme after a year-long investigation. This is his second indictment since becoming a senator in 2006.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
The indictment also charges the senator with providing ‘sensitive U.S. Government information and took other steps that secretly aided the Government of Egypt.’
The probe also looked at other bribes allegedly paid to the couple. ‘Those bribes included cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value,’ the indictment said.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his wife Nadine Arslanian arrive for a state dinner in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House in December 2022; the couple has been charged on three criminal counts related to bribery and extortion
Cash was found in envelopes during a June 2022 raid of Menendez home
$486,461 in U.S. currency was seized from the couple’s home, per the indictment
The luxury Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible worth more than $60,000
A June 2022 raid on their New Jersey home found ‘over $480,000 in cash – much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe,’ the indictment notes, adding Nadine had over $70,000 in a safe deposit box.
It also found two one-kilogram gold bars and eleven one-ounce gold bars.
Menendez and his wife reportedly sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold bars despite having faced foreclosure just three years earlier and neglecting to initially disclose it on their ethics filings.
Businesswoman Nadine Arslanian, 56, cashed in up to $400,000 worth of gold last spring, in a sale that occurred just months before a federal investigation into the New Jersey Democrat was announced to the public.
Damian Williams, attorney with Southern District of New York, outlined the charges and supporting evidence during a press conference Friday morning, saying the couple used Menendez’s ‘power and influence to protect and enrich the businessmen and benefit the government of Egypt.’
He noted investigators ‘executed a search warrant and discovered over $500,000 worth of cash stuffed into envelopes and the senator’s jackets.’
‘That is not all. Agents discovered a lot of gold,’ he added.
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.
David Schertler, a lawyer for Nadine Menendez, said she ‘denies any criminal conduct and will vigorously contest these charges in court.’
The indictment alleges that Menendez tried to disrupt a federal criminal prosecution of Fred Daibes in exchange for the money and other items of value. Daibes is an old friend of Menendez, has fundraised for his Senate campaign, and allegedly has ties to the Genovese mob family.
The indictment charges Menendez ‘promised to and did use his influence and power’ to pressure President Joe Biden to nominate a U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey who Menendez ‘believed could be influenced by Menendez with respect to the federal criminal prosecution of Fred Daibes.’
Damian Williams, attorney with Southern District of New York, outlined the charges
Menendez recommended and Biden later nominated Phillip Sellinger as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, the top federal prosecutor in the state.
Daibes has been under investigation before. New Jersey authorities have tracked high-ranking mobsters meeting with Daibes repeatedly over the last decade, the Daily Beast reported.
Daibes provided the couple with gold bars and envelopes of cash, the indictment states.
‘Multiple gold bars provided by Daibes were found during the court-authorized June 2022 search; of the couple’s home, the indictment states. It also says the senator performed a web search for ‘how much is one kilo of gold worth’ and that the envelopes of cash had the fingerprints of Daibes and his driver.