Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and his wife Nadine Menendez both pleaded not guilty to federal corruption and bribery charges in Manhattan federal court Wednesday.
Both will turn in their personal passports, but Menendez maintains his official passport as a senior senator.
Menendez was also ordered to refrain from communicating with Senate staff and will be under pre-trail supervision.
His personal recognizance bond is set for $100,000. His wife’s bond was set at more than double that amount at $250,000.
Co-defendants Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer and founder of a New Jersey-based bank who is a longtime campaign fundraiser for Menendez, as well as Jose Uribe, a New Jersey businessman who worked in trucking and insurance and previously had his broker license revoked due to a fraud conviction, also pleaded not guilty under the indictment.
Daibe’s bond was set at $2 million, while Uribe’s was set at $1 million. They also will surrender their passports. All four defendants will be released on their own recognizance Wednesday.
Menendez, his wife and Daibes all arrived outside the New York City courthouse Wednesday morning, passing through the swarm of photographers without taking questions.
Prosecutors say Nadine Menendez played a key role in collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes from three New Jersey businessmen seeking help from the powerful lawmaker. An attorney for Nadine Menendez has said she also denies the allegations and will fight the charges, according to the Associated Press.
The fifth alleged co-conspirator, Wael Hana, another New Jersey businessman originally from Egypt, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport Tuesday and pleaded not guilty later that afternoon before a federal judge granted his release on a $5 million personal recognizance bond under the conditions that he surrender his passport and wear GPS monitoring.
The FBI said agents found nearly $480,000 in cash, much of it hidden in clothing and closets, as well as more than $100,000 in gold bars and a Mercedez-Benz convertible said to have been given to the couple as a bribe in a search of the New Jersey home Menendez, 69, shares with his wife.
It’s the second corruption case in a decade against Menendez, whose last trial involving different allegations ended with jurors failing to reach a verdict in 2017.
Fellow New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker on Tuesday joined the calls for Menendez to resign, saying in a statement that the indictment contains “shocking allegations of corruption and specific, disturbing details of wrongdoing.” Around half of Senate Democrats have now said that Menendez should step down, including several running for reelection next year.
Hana is alleged to have helped arrange meetings and dinners between Menendez, his wife Nadine and Egyptian military and intelligence officials.
Prosecutors also say Hana promised to put Menendez’s wife on his company’s payroll in a low-or-no-show job in exchange for Menendez using his influential post to facilitate foreign military sales and financing to Egypt. The indictment alleges Hana also paid $23,000 toward her home mortgage, wrote $30,000 checks to her consulting company, promised her envelopes of cash, sent her exercise equipment and bought some of the gold bars that were found in the couple’s home.
Federal prosecutors also allege Menendez recommended that President Biden nominate a U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey who the senator believed he could influence with respect to Daibes and took further actions meant to disrupt a criminal investigation related to Uribe and his associates.
In his first public remarks since the indictment, Menendez said Monday that the cash found in his home was drawn from his personal savings accounts over the years and kept on hand for emergencies. One of the envelopes full of cash found at his home, however, bore Daibes’ DNA and was marked with the real estate developer’s return address, according to prosecutors.
The indictment alleges repeated actions by Menendez to benefit Egypt, despite U.S. government misgivings over the country’s human rights record that in recent years have prompted Congress to attach restrictions on aid. Prosecutors, who detailed meetings and dinners between Menendez and Egyptian officials, say Menendez gave sensitive U.S. government information to Egyptian officials and ghostwrote a letter to fellow senators encouraging them to lift a hold on $300 million in aid to Egypt, one of the top recipients of U.S. military support.
Prosecutors also accuse Menendez of pressuring a U.S. agricultural official to stop opposing a lucrative deal that gave Hana’s company a monopoly over certifying that imported meat met religious halal standards.
Fox News’ Maria Paronich, Marly Carroll and The Associated Press contributed to this report.