The phrase “gold” seems 26 occasions within the federal indictment unsealed Friday towards Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey alongside together with his spouse, Nadine, and three businessmen.
There are particulars concerning the senator’s web searches for the value of gold and Ms. Menendez’s journey to a jeweler to promote gold and pictures of the serial numbers stamped on a few of the 13 gold bars discovered of their residence.
But gold is never talked about within the monetary disclosure types he’s required to file yearly as a senator, exhibiting up for the primary time final yr.
The three-count indictment — which charged the couple with accepting bribes in alternate for Mr. Menendez’s willingness to make use of his clout as a strong Democratic senator — raises questions concerning the accuracy of these disclosure types.
Mr. Menendez, the indictment mentioned, “didn’t disclose” the receipt of automotive funds or “any money or gold bars” — within the “related calendar yr.”
The 39-page indictment depicts a far-reaching net of political corruption involving support and weapons gross sales to Egypt and efforts by Mr. Menendez to steer state and federal prosecutors to go simple on his associates in felony circumstances. The reporting lapses that federal prosecutors in Manhattan famous on his Senate monetary disclosure types may appear to pale compared.
However they may additionally recommend an effort to cover his newfound wealth to evade discover by the Senate’s Choose Committee on Ethics.
That is also against the law.
“Knowingly and willfully submitting a false private monetary disclosure report can lead to a civil penalty of as much as $50,000,” Brett Kappel, a Washington-based lawyer and knowledgeable in marketing campaign finance, lobbying and authorities ethics, mentioned in an e-mail. “It might even be prosecuted as a violation of the False Statements Act — a felony punishable by as much as 5 years in jail.”
The primary point out of gold on Mr. Menendez’s monetary disclosure report got here in March 2022, on a report amended to point that in 2020 his spouse owned as a lot as $250,000 in bullion. The alteration made it seem that Ms. Menendez had possessed the gold since earlier than or quickly after the couple married in October 2020.
However prosecutors consider she acquired at the least some gold in 2021 or past; that acquisition doesn’t seem within the senator’s disclosure stories.
Nadine Menendez, 56, was unemployed and struggling financially when she and Mr. Menendez started courting in February 2018, in line with courtroom information, the indictment and several other of her acquaintances.
Most of the textual content messages investigators discovered on Ms. Menendez’s cellphone advised she was determined for cash.
In July 2019, Wael Hana, a pal of Ms. Menendez’s who can also be charged with bribery, gave her $23,000 to pay down mortgage debt and keep away from shedding her residence to foreclosures, in line with the indictment. Prosecutors consider the fee was a part of the broader bribery scheme.
A number of months later, she complained to Mr. Menendez that Mr. Hana had not offered further funds she had anticipated.
“I’m soooooo upset,” she wrote, in line with the indictment, including that she thought the cash would have arrived, however for “the second day in a row there may be nothing.”
She requested the senator how she ought to proceed. “You shouldn’t textual content or e-mail,” he replied.
She and Mr. Menendez received engaged the subsequent month throughout a visit to India and married a yr later.
The gadgets that prosecutors mentioned constituted bribes continued to reach in 2021 within the type of home items, together with train machines and air purifiers.
The primary transaction involving gold talked about within the indictment just isn’t till June 2021, when, prosecutors mentioned, Mr. Hana bought 22 one-ounce bars of bullion, two of which have been discovered throughout a 2022 search of the Menendezes’ residence. The acquisition occurred two days after a non-public assembly in a Washington lodge between the senator and an Egyptian official, the indictment mentioned.
Eleven further bricks of gold, with serial numbers traced to a fund-raiser for Mr. Menendez, have been additionally found within the residence.
Mr. Menendez’s Senate disclosure types point out that, collectively, he and Ms. Menendez maintained seven financial institution accounts. However investigators additionally discovered $550,000 in money throughout searches of a protected deposit field and the couple’s Englewood Cliffs, N.J., residence, a few of it stuffed into 10 envelopes and hidden in clothes and closets.
Mr. Menendez’s fingerprints have been discovered on one of many envelopes, the indictment mentioned.
Mr. Menendez mentioned Friday that he was assured “that this matter can be efficiently resolved as soon as the entire info are introduced.”
He introduced himself as a sufferer of overzealous prosecutors and mentioned he believed he had been repeatedly focused in federal investigations as a result of he’s Latino.
He’s anticipated to deal with the costs at a information convention Monday in Union Metropolis, N.J., the place he was raised and the place he as soon as served as mayor.
Ms. Menendez’s lawyer mentioned she had damaged no legal guidelines and deliberate to “vigorously contest these costs in courtroom.”
Mr. Hana’s spokeswoman mentioned the costs “have completely no benefit.”
Regardless of the obvious monetary disclosure omissions famous by prosecutors, it seems unlikely that the Senate’s Choose Committee on Ethics would scrutinize Mr. Menendez’s filings whereas a felony prosecution is pending.
“Absent particular circumstances,” the committee mentioned Friday, “it has been the longstanding coverage of the committee to yield investigation into issues the place there may be an lively and ongoing felony investigation or continuing in order to not intervene in that course of.”