Menendez co-defendant pleads guilty to 7 counts

Menendez co-defendant pleads guilty to 7 counts

A New Jersey businessman charged with attempting to bribe Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) with a Mercedez-Benz for his political sway has pleaded guilty in the far-reaching corruption case after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.

Jose Uribe entered a guilty plea Friday in federal court in New York to charges that include conspiracy to commit bribery, obstruction of justice, and tax evasion, court filings show.

Under his plea deal, Uribe must “truthfully and completely disclose all information with respect to the activities of himself and others concerning all matters about which this Office inquires of him, which information can be used for any purpose.”

He also is required to “testify truthfully” at any future proceedings, including Menendez’s trial, if called upon. The Hill has requested comment from Menendez’s attorneys.

Uribe was first indicted on two charges in the fall, and his plea includes five more charges newly unveiled Friday.

Uribe was originally accused of helping secure a Mercedes-Benz convertible for Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian, in exchange for Menendez’s help disrupting a criminal investigation into the businessman by New Jersey’s attorney general. Menendez and his wife have pleaded not guilty to four counts each.

The businessman’s plea, however, acknowledges many of the facts at the center of the charges against the senator.

Uribe also pleaded guilty Friday to an obstruction of justice charge for claiming to prosecutors in July — before charges were brought — that the payments Uribe made for the convertible were a loan. Prosecutors in charging documents said the false and misleading statement was “an effort to interfere” with the investigation of the senator.

The businessman also pleaded guilty to tax evasion for not reporting certain income from 2016 through 2021.

“The Court accepts the guilty plea,” the court wrote in a brief docket entry.

Two other businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, were charged alongside Menendez and have pleaded not guilty.

Hana and Menendez’s wife are accused of plotting with Menendez between January 2018 and June 2022 to aid the Egyptian government. Menendez also allegedly recommended President Biden nominate an individual as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey with the belief that person could be influenced regarding a criminal prosecution involving Daibes.

Uribe’s sentencing is set for June 14, just weeks after Menendez’s trial is set to begin May 6.

The New Jersey senator has brushed off calls for him to step aside in the wake of the indictment, though he did step down from chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty,” Menendez said in the fall after being charged. “I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I’ve had for the past five decades. This is the same record of success these very same leaders have lauded all along.”

Updated at 4:18 p.m.

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