The Bob Menendez Corruption Case Takes a Wildly F–ked-Up Turn

The federal corruption case against Senator Bob Menendez, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, and a trio of New Jersey businessmen began with allegations of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold bars and cash “stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe.” Now, it’s somehow taken an even darker turn, involving a fatal car crash. 

New Jersey’s The Record newspaper and The New York Times both reported on Wednesday that Nadine Menendez, the wife and codefendant of the New Jersey senator, struck and killed a man while driving through the town of Bogota, NJ, on December 12, 2018. According to The Record, police records do not show that Nadine Menendez, who was dating the senator at the time, was tested for drugs or alcohol or taken into custody. According to dashcam video obtained the Times, she was joined at one point by a retired police officer who told the cops, “I don’t even know her. That’s my buddy’s wife who’s friends with her. He said could you do me a favor and take her up there, because her friend just got in a car accident.” A man whose parked car Menendez hit after striking the victim told the Times that he didn’t know who she was at the time, but that it seemed like she was “someone important.” He added, “I don’t know if she was well known, or lived nearby, or the police knew her, but there appeared to be a lot of secrecy. I remember saying, ‘That woman is just allowed to leave? She’s not being arrested or anything?’” Menendez was reportedly released without a summons.

In a police report filed the next day, a Bogota sergeant reportedly wrote: “It is determined that at this time Ms. Arslanian was not at fault for the motor vehicle crash and that [the victim, Richard] Koop was jaywalking.”

While the crash was not mentioned in last month’s indictment against the Menendezes, it did note that in January 2019, the month after Koop was killed, Nadine texted with businessman Wael Hana—one of the New Jersey businessmen charged in the alleged corruption scheme—complaining about not having a car. According to the Times, Senator Menendez and one of the other businessman, Jose Uribe, “soon agreed to terms to rectify that.”

According to the indictment, Mr. Menendez agreed to call a senior prosecutor at the New Jersey attorney general’s office in late January to try to pressure him to go easy on an associate of Mr. Uribe. Mr. Uribe, in return, agreed to finance a car, prosecutors said. His lawyer did not return requests for comment. “All is GREAT! I’m so excited to get a car next week. !!” Ms. Menendez texted Mr. Hana a few days after the senator placed the call.

In April, four months after Mr. Koop’s death, Ms. Menendez signed paperwork to purchase a new $60,000 Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible. She told Mr. Uribe by text that she would “never forget this” and messaged Mr. Menendez to celebrate too. “Congratulations mon amour de la vie,” Ms. Menendez wrote to Mr. Menendez, according to the indictment. “We are the proud owners of a 2019 Mercedes.”

Rosemarie Koop-Angelicola, Koop’s sister, told the Times that after the crash, the family heard from neither Nadine nor Bob Menendez, and not much from local authorities. “The family really has had serious concerns over what we felt was a very sparse, one-sided investigation,” she said. “Definitely a lack of legal enthusiasm to take this case, definite lack of media coverage, and a lack of communication by the authorities of Bergen County. We felt that the whole thing was very silently swept under the rug.”

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