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Senator Menendez faces new obstruction charges in growing legal saga

Fresh 18-count indictment adds complexity to corruption allegations ahead of May trial


In a recent development, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and his wife are facing obstruction of justice charges, revealed in a new 18-count indictment unsealed on Tuesday. This adds to the existing corruption charges against the New Jersey Democrat. Menendez, who previously pleaded not guilty to charges of accepting substantial sums from businessmen to obstruct law enforcement probes and acting as an illegal agent of the Egyptian government, is scheduled for trial on May 6 in Manhattan federal court.

According to the new indictment, federal prosecutors in Manhattan claim that Menendez's former lawyers informed them in meetings last year that the senator was unaware until 2022 of mortgage and car payments made for his wife by two businessmen. When he did become aware, Menendez allegedly thought these payments were loans. Prosecutors contend that Menendez was aware of both payments before 2022 and that they were not loans but rather bribes.

Menendez has strongly denied the obstruction allegations, labeling them as false and asserting that prosecutors are attempting to coerce him into capitulating. In a statement, he insisted, "The government has long known that I learned of and helped repay loans - not bribes - that had been provided to my wife. I am innocent and will prove it no matter how many charges they continue to pile on."

Nadine Menendez, the senator's wife, has also pleaded not guilty, and her lawyers have not immediately responded to requests for comment. One of the businessmen involved, Jose Uribe, recently pleaded guilty to fraud and bribery charges. The initial charges against Menendez, filed last September, included allegations of gold bars and cash envelopes discovered in his apartment, along with accusations of arranging meetings with Egyptian officials in exchange for military aid.

A businessman named Wael Hana, who allegedly orchestrated the meetings, put Menendez's wife on the payroll of a company he controlled. Hana has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors filed a more comprehensive indictment against Menendez in January, accusing him of assisting a New Jersey businessman in seeking investment from a Qatari company with ties to the Middle Eastern country's government. Despite calls for his resignation, Menendez has resisted stepping down, temporarily relinquishing his role as chair of the Senate foreign relations committee after being charged in September.

[Source: Reuters]

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