Businessman Says He Bribed Menendez With Mercedes to ‘Kill’ Case

(Bloomberg) -- A New Jersey businessman told a federal jury that he bribed US Senator Robert Menendez with a Mercedes-Benz convertible “to get power and influence” and “kill” a state criminal probe.

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Jose Uribe, who is cooperating with prosecutors at the Manhattan corruption trial against the New Jersey Democrat, said that he provided the car to Menendez’s wife, Nadine.

US Prosecutors say Menendez and his wife accepted almost $500,000 in cash, gold bars and the Mercedes-Benz in bribes from Uribe and other businessmen. After taking the car paid for by Uribe, the US says Menendez tried to interfere in a criminal insurance fraud investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office.

“I agreed with Nadine Menendez and other people to provide a car for Nadine in order to get the power and influence over Mr. Menendez to help me get a better resolution for one of my associates being charged in a criminal matter and to kill a criminal investigation,” Uribe, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges, testified Friday.

The senator is also charged with illegally helping the government of Qatar and acting as an agent of Egypt. He faces 20 years in prison on the most serious charge.

The 70-year-old Menendez, who has said he’s innocent, didn’t seek the Democratic nomination for his seat this week, but filed to run as an independent instead. Nadine Menendez is scheduled to be tried at a later date.

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation have testified during the four-week trial they found cash stuffed in envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe. Some envelopes bore the fingerprints of Menendez, an FBI agent testified Friday. Investigators also found the fingerprints and DNA of another co-defendant, New Jersey developer Fred Daibes, and his driver, according to the agent.

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