Senator Bob Menendez pleaded not guilty to federal charges. He did so with his wife and two associates this Wednesday in Manhattan Federal Court. The previous week, Senator Menendez resigned as president of the Foreign Affairs Committee but did not leave his seat as senator.
He is charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, attempt and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion based on official position.
The judge released Menendez on $100,000 bail and with an order not to communicate with the other defendants in the case, except for his wife, Nadine, with whom he went to Manhattan Court.
The judge also prohibited the senator from contacting Senate staff who could be involved in the corruption case. The Democrat also had to surrender his passport and will only be able to leave the country to travel as a member of the United States Congress.
With his declaration of innocence before the judge, Menendez continues in line with his statement published the day before justifying his decision not to leave the Senate. Menedez's Democratic caucus colleagues have called on the senator to resign.
In his statement, Menendez said that the cash that authorities found in his house and jacket were the result of withdrawals at bank ATMs. He assured that it is an "old-fashioned" habit typical of the son of a Cuban immigrant. Several gold bars were also found at his home.
The accusation indicates that Menendez, in his capacity as head of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, favored certain businessmen so that they could close agreements with countries like Egypt. In exchange, Menendez allegedly received cash bribes and gifts.