Menendez Co-Defendant Pleads Guilty to Bribery, Fraud Charges

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
March 1, 2024Judiciary
Menendez Co-Defendant Pleads Guilty to Bribery, Fraud Charges
New Jersey businessman Jose Uribe, arrives at Manhattan court after being indicted on bribery charges in conjunction with Senator Bob Menendez and his wife Nadine Menendez in New York City on Oct. 2, 2023. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Jose Uribe, a New Jersey businessman charged in September with attempting to bribe Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), revealed on Thursday that he intends to plead guilty to the charges.

Appearing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday, Mr. Uribe and his lawyers filed a waiver of indictment and asked to withdraw his prior plea of not guilty. Mr. Uribe’s legal team indicated he now intends to admit guilt to counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, attempt and conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to obstruct justice, attempted tax evasion, and obstructing justice by making false and misleading statements to federal investigators.

In a brief docket entry on Friday, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein said the court accepts the guilty plea.

Mr. Uribe was originally charged as a co-defendant alongside Mr. Menendez, his wife Nadine Menendez, and fellow New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana and Fred Daibes.

All five defendants were alleged to have conspired together, with the three New Jersey businessmen allegedly lavishing the U.S. Senator and his wife with bribes, including cash, gold bars, and a convertible Mercedes-Benz C-300 luxury car. In turn, the Senator allegedly worked to benefit the New Jersey businessmen, including those with business interests tied to Egypt.

Mr. Uribe, in particular, is alleged to have maintained the payments for the Mercedes Benz, which investigators found parked in the garage of Mr. Menendez’s home. In return for this luxury car, Mr. Uribe allegedly sought Mr. Menendez’s help resolving a New Jersey state criminal prosecution against one of Mr. Uribe’s business partners.

Mr. Uribe’s plea agreement reiterated the specific charges for which he admitted guilt, but made no specific references to the other defendants in the case. Nevertheless, Mr. Uribe’s decision to admit guilt for the bribery and honest services fraud counts for which Mr. and Mrs. Menendez are also charged could bolster the legal case against the senator and his wife.

NTD News reached out to Mr. Uribe’s legal team in the case, requesting more details about the plea arrangement but did not receive a response from by press time. Prosecutors in the case also declined a request for further comment.

Mr. Uribe is due to appear in court again on June 14 for sentencing.

NTD News also reached out to Mr. Menendez’s legal representatives for comment about this latest development in the case, but they also did not respond by press time.

Mr. Menendez has maintained his innocence throughout the criminal case.

“Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty,” Mr. Menendez said after the charges were announced in September. Mr. Menendez insisted he would “continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success” he’s had throughout his political career, spanning local, state, and federal offices.

The New Jersey Democrat stepped down from his position as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee shortly after the charges were announced but has rebuffed calls for his resignation over charges he characterized as a “smear campaign.”

“It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat,” Mr. Menendez said in September. “I am not going anywhere.”

Beyond allegedly working to resolve a criminal case against Mr. Uribe’s associate, Mr. Menendez is also alleged to have helped Mr. Hana and Mr. Daibes maintain a monopolistic business position. Specifically, Mr. Menendez allegedly dissuaded the U.S. Department of Agriculture from upending IS EG Halal Certified, Inc. as the sole certifier of Halal status for U.S. goods going to Egypt. Mr. Hana allegedly operated IS EG Halal with financial support and backing from Mr. Daibes.

Ms. Menendez is alleged to have formed a business entity—called Strategic International Business Consultants, LLC—for use as a vehicle for accepting bribery payments, including three checks of $10,000 each from IS EG Halal.

Mrs. Menendez, Mr. Hana, and Mr. Daibes have pled not guilty to the various charges against them.

In January, Ms. Menendez’s legal team filed to have her trial separate from her husband. Her team said this move would protect “the confidentiality of her privileged marital communications” and preserve her right not to be compelled to testify against her spouse while still insuring her ability to testify in her own defense at trial.

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