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U.S. senator faces new obstruction of justice charges in rewritten indictment – National

New obstruction of justice crimes were added Tuesday to charges against Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife that allege they accepted gold bars, cash and a luxury car in return for favors the senator carried out to assist three businessmen.

The charges were in a rewritten indictment returned against the Democrat in Manhattan federal court.

Conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice charges were added against Menendez and his wife, Nadine. In a statement, the senator called the additions “a flagrant abuse of power” and claimed prosecutors were “trying to get me to give in simply by making wild allegations again and again, without actually proving anything.”

He said the government “has long known that I learned of and helped repay loans — not bribes — that had been provided to my wife.”

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“Not content — or capable — of meeting those facts fairly at trial, the government has now falsely alleged a cover-up and obstruction,” Menendez said. “I am innocent and will prove it no matter how many charges they continue to pile on.”

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David Schertler, a Washington-based lawyer for Nadine Menendez, declined to comment on the new allegations.

An indictment already alleges that the couple conspired with three businessmen to accept the bribes in return for the senator’s help with their projects. Both have pleaded not guilty, along with two of the businessmen. A May trial has been scheduled.

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One businessman pleaded guilty to charges last week and agreed to testify at trial against the others.

After his arrest last fall, Menendez, 70, was forced to relinquish his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but said he would not resign from Congress.

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According to an indictment, Menendez and his wife accepted gold bars and cash from a real estate developer in return for the senator using his clout to get that businessman a multimillion-dollar deal with a Qatari investment fund.

Menendez also was charged with helping another New Jersey business associate get a lucrative deal with the government of Egypt.

Among new allegations, prosecutors say Menendez caused his then-attorney to meet with prosecutors last June and September to say that the senator had been unaware until 2022 of a $23,000 mortgage payment one businessman made on Nadine Menendez’s New Jersey home to avoid foreclosure or the money another defendant paid toward a Mercedes-Benz convertible.

Prosecutors allege that Menendez also caused his lawyer to say in the September meeting that Menendez in 2022 had learned that the payments were loans.

The prosecutors wrote that Menendez knew and “had learned of both the mortgage company payment and the car payments prior to 2022, and they were not loans, but bribe payments.”

Prosecutors also said in the rewritten indictment that Nadine Menendez caused her lawyer to tell prosecutors last August that the mortgage payment and funds provided for the convertible were loans when she knew they were bribe payments.

The new charges allege that the couple was trying to obstruct justice in the weeks before they were charged last September with a variety of crimes.

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Prosecutors also say that Nadine Menendez asked one businessmen after he received a subpoena for documents what he would tell investigators if they asked him about payments he made for the convertible. After the man responded that he would say the payments had been a loan, Nadine Menendez “said that sounded good,” according to prosecutors.

And, prosecutors said, Bob and Nadine Menendez both sought to return some of the bribe money, once they knew an investigation was underway. In particular, they noted, Bob Menendez in December 2022 wrote his wife a check for $23,569 — the amount of the mortgage payment she had received — with a handwritten memo: “To Liquidate loan.”

The charges were added to the indictment just a day after Judge Sidney H. Stein rejected Menendez’s claims that search warrants that led to the discovery of gold bars and cash at his New Jersey home were unconstitutional.

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Defense lawyers had alleged that documents submitted to magistrate judges to obtain search warrants for email records, phones and materials at Menendez’s residence from January 2022 to last September were “riddled with material misrepresentation and omissions.”

FBI raids on the residence in June 2022 resulted in the discovery of over $100,000 in gold bars and more than $480,000 in cash, much of it hidden in closets, clothing and a safe, prosecutors said.

Menendez said the cash found in the house was personal savings he had put away for emergencies.

In his statement Tuesday, Menendez said the rewritten indictment “reveals far more about the government than it says about me. It says that the prosecutors are afraid of the facts, scared to subject their charges to the fair-minded scrutiny of a jury, and unconstrained by any sense of justice or fair play. It says, once and for all, that they will stop at nothing in their zeal to get me,” he said.

The son of Cuban immigrants, Menendez has held public office continuously since 1986, when he was elected mayor of Union City, New Jersey. In 2006, then-Gov. Jon Corzine appointed Menendez to the Senate seat he vacated when he became governor.

Associated Press Writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed.

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