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Sen. Menendez’s wife got engagement ring as part of bribery scheme, prosecutors allege in new filing

By Rob Frehse, CNN

(CNN) — Nadine Menendez, wife of New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, got a diamond engagement ring as part of extensive bribes the couple received in exchange for the senator’s influence, according to a new filing from prosecutors.

The ring was purchased for Nadine Menendez as part of a $150,000 bribe for her husband’s intervention in a criminal insurance fraud prosecution, prosecutors said in the Monday filing. Part of the money was used to purchase a Mercedes-Benz convertible for Nadine Menendez, and one of the co-defendants in the case, businessman Wael Hana, purchased the ring for her but kept some of the money for himself, prosecutors allege.

Prosecutors claim Hana facilitated an agreement to provide bribes to the couple in exchange for the senator’s influence on matters benefiting himself, the Egyptian government and others.

A confidential source communicating with Egypt was seemingly worried about Hana keeping some of the money and said “Wail [Hana] was about to ruin things with Bob. Bob who is starting to listen to us,” according to the new filing.

“This complaint—that the failure to deliver the full amount of the promised bribe would harm Menendez’s relationship with Egypt—obviously does not undermine the conclusion that Menendez was in a corrupt relationship for the benefit of Egypt,” prosecutors wrote. “It is instead strong proof that he was.”

Menendez and his wife have pleaded not guilty to the charges, as have Hana and two other co-defendants.

CNN has reached out to attorneys for Bob Menendez, Nadine Menendez and another co-defendant for comment.

An attorney for Hana told CNN he has no comment at this time but will file a response to the government’s motion.

Prosecutors also shared more details about the cash investigators found in the basement of the Menendez home, noting that in addition to two bags of approximately $100,000 found on top of a large rack of clothes hangers, prosecutors found four boots “stuffed with cash, including one boot containing in excess of $5,000 in $50 bills, marked with a note stating ‘5350.’”

Prosecutors also said Menendez contacted New Jersey mayors in late 2020 and early 2021 “seeking to convince them to authorize the Laboratory Company—a company that was paying Nadine Menendez—to conduct COVID-19 testing,” according to the filing.

Prosecutors said Menendez called his wife in January 2019 on her alternate cellphone, “a phone Menendez and Nadine Menendez referred to as her ‘007’ phone, an apparent reference to the fictional character James Bond,” according to the Monday filing.

The call was made “before Nadine Menendez requested and received from Hana briefing information about the New Jersey Defendant’s case,” prosecutors wrote. Investigators found “extensive test messages” between Nadine Menendez and another co-defendant in the case. One text asked Nadine to “make things go away,” and prosecutors say she represented that her husband would intervene, according to the filing.

There was “substantial evidence that Menendez did in fact know about the corrupt quid pro quo,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.

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