Menendez Co-Defendant Pleads Guilty To Bribery And Other Charges

A New Jersey businessman with strong ties to disgraced Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) pleaded guilty Friday to attempting to bribe the Democrat with a Mercedes-Benz.

Jose Uribe accepted seven charges, which included conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services wire fraud, obstruction of justice and tax evasion. Federal prosecutors accused the businessman of providing the luxury vehicle to Menendez’s wife.

He faces up to 95 years in prison under the plea agreement. However, his agreement to testify against other defendants is expected to reduce that term significantly.

It was last fall when Uribe and two other businessmen were charged in the corruption case centered around the New Jersey Democrat. Investigators charged the senator and his wife accepted gold bars, cash and the Mercedes-Benz as bribes for assistance in foreign affairs.

Not guilty pleas were entered by the accused.

The trial of the Menendez couple and two other businessmen is expected to start in May.

Uribe initially faced the two charges that were filed late last year, and his guilty plea last week included five new ones. He was first accused of acquiring the Mercedes-Benz for the senator’s wife, Nadine Arslanian.

Investigators believed this was done to get Menendez’s assistance in running interference in a criminal investigation he faced.

Uribe entered a guilty plea on Friday to an obstruction of justice charge for claiming to investigators last July that payments he made to secure the convertible were in fact a loan. Officials said this was a smoke screen to hide the bribery attempt.

He further pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Prosecutors accused Uribe of failing to report portions of his income from 2016 through 2021. Two other businessmen, Fred Daibes and Wael Hana, face charges along with the Menendez couple and likewise entered not guilty pleas.

According to prosecutors, Hana and Menendez’s wife schemed with the senator for more than four years beginning in 2018 to assist Egyptian officials.

Menendez is also accused of recommending a person to President Joe Biden for nomination for U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey who he believed would be lenient to Daibes, who was under investigation.

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