Four Individuals, Including Wife of Sen. Bob Menendez, Enter Not Guilty Pleas to Amended Bribery Accusations

by Ethan Kim
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Four individuals connected to the criminal bribery case against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez entered pleas of not guilty in a New York City courtroom on Wednesday. The amended indictment accuses Sen. Menendez, his spouse Nadine Menendez, and a third defendant, Wael Hana, of conspiring to serve as agents of the Egyptian government.

Sen. Menendez, who stepped down from his role as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee following his arrest last month, was not present at the federal court hearing in Manhattan due to Senate obligations. He is expected to appear in court next Monday.

Those who entered the not guilty pleas include Nadine Menendez and businessperson Wael Hana. The updated indictment, filed last week, adds a new charge against Menendez, his wife, and Hana, alleging they plotted to act on behalf of the Egyptian government, an action prohibited for a U.S. congressional member.

The previous indictment accused Sen. Menendez and his wife of being involved in a bribery scheme, accepting financial incentives including cash, gold bars, and a high-end vehicle from three businesspersons based in New Jersey. These businessmen sought Sen. Menendez’s influence in international relations matters.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Sidney H. Stein rejected a petition from Hana to remove a GPS tracking device from his leg. Hana’s request was denied due to Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richenthal’s contention that Hana, who holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Egypt and possesses more than $25 million in overseas assets, posed a flight risk due to his strong ties to the Egyptian government.

Lawrence Lustberg, Hana’s attorney, argued that the ankle monitor was cumbersome and disrupted his client’s sleep, describing it as “an oppressive requirement that is, in our opinion, unnecessary.” Lustberg asserted that Hana is committed to remaining in the United States and is eager to prove his innocence in the trial set for May 6.

Richenthal stated that the prosecution had consented to a $5 million bail arrangement for Hana. The agreement came despite the charges against Hana being non-extraditable in Egypt, on the condition that he would wear the GPS device and provide considerable property and cash as collateral for his bail.

The revised indictment outlines that between January 2018 and June 2022, the accused trio took a sequence of actions in Egypt’s interest, including liaising with Egyptian military and intelligence officials.

Sen. Menendez declared in a statement last week that he plans to “vindicate his innocence

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