Sen. Bob Menendez pleads not guilty to federal bribery charges

Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez walks into Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday where he faces charges in a plot to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes including cash, gold bars, a Mercedes convertible and mortgage payments. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez walks into Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday where he faces charges in a plot to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes including cash, gold bars, a Mercedes convertible and mortgage payments. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Sept. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine, pleaded not guilty to charges alleging the couple traded his political influence in Washington for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.

The couple appeared at a New York courthouse where attorneys entered guilty pleas for them as well as co-defendants Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes.

Magistrate Judge Ona Wang set a $100,000 personal recognizance bond for Menendez, along with ordering that he be supervised ahead of the trial and surrender all of his personal passports.

He was permitted to maintain his official passport and to travel internationally for official business given he provides prior notice.

The judge also set a $250,000 personal recognizance bond for his wife and bonds of $1 million and $2 million for Uribe and Daibes.

Sen. Robert Menendez holds hands with wife Nadine as he walks into Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday, where both pleaded not guilty in a bribery scheme. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Sen. Robert Menendez holds hands with wife Nadine as he walks into Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday, where both pleaded not guilty in a bribery scheme. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Uribe, a former insurance agent, and Daibes, real estate developer, were restricted to regional travel.

A fifth co-defendant, Egyptian-American businessman Wael Hana, pleaded not guilty Tuesday after he was arrested at Kennedy International Airport as he arrived from Egypt to face the charges against him.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., joined a growing list of Democrats Tuesday who have called on Sen. Bob Menedez to resign. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., joined a growing list of Democrats Tuesday who have called on Sen. Bob Menedez to resign. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

When federal agents raided the Menendez home in Englewood Cliffs they found nearly $500,000 in cash stashed throughout, as well as "gold bars, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle and other items of value," including a trove of jewelry and exercise equipment.

Investigators also said Daibes' fingerprints and DNA were collected from envelopes full of cash.

Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez exits federal court in New York City on Wednesday with his wife, Nadine, after pleading not guilty on bribery and extortion charges stemming from his relationship with three New Jersey business people. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez exits federal court in New York City on Wednesday with his wife, Nadine, after pleading not guilty on bribery and extortion charges stemming from his relationship with three New Jersey business people. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

During a press conference earlier this week, Menendez denied the "salacious" allegations, saying the money found in his home came from his personal savings.

"For 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba," he said Monday. "These were moneys drawn from my personal savings account based on the income I have lawfully derived over those 30 years."

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez exits the courthouse with his wife, Nadine, on Wednesday in New York City after pleading not guilty on bribery and extortion charges. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez exits the courthouse with his wife, Nadine, on Wednesday in New York City after pleading not guilty on bribery and extortion charges. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

He also urged the public to wait for the truth to come out following his indictment last Friday on three federal criminal charges, including accepting bribes and using his position to benefit the government of Egypt, as well as the three New Jersey businessmen.

The 69-year-old Menendez stepped down from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but maintained his innocence, vowing he would not resign from the Senate.

Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez exits federal court in New York City on Wednesday with his wife, Nadine, after pleading not guilty on bribery and extortion charges stemming from his relationship with three New Jersey business people. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez exits federal court in New York City on Wednesday with his wife, Nadine, after pleading not guilty on bribery and extortion charges stemming from his relationship with three New Jersey business people. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

On Tuesday, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., joined a growing list of Democrats who have called on Menedez to resign.

The indictment, unsealed Sept. 22, alleges Menendez used his influence to pressure an official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect a lucrative monopoly provided to Hana by the Egyptian government.

He is accused of trying to disrupt a criminal investigation by the New Jersey attorney general related to an associate and a relative of Uribe.

Menendez faces charges of recommending someone to be U.S. attorney in New Jersey whom he thought he could influence regarding the federal prosecution of Daibes and trying to influence the prosecutor's office in the case.

In 2017, Menendez faced unrelated corruption charges in a case that ended in a mistrial.