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A New Jersey businessman testified to a jury that he bribed Senator Bob Menendez with a Mercedes-Benz

José Uribe revealed that he bought the luxury vehicle for the legislator to stop criminal investigations.

El senador estadounidense Bob Menéndez, demócrata de Nueva Jersey, llega al Tribunal Federal de Manhattan, en la ciudad de Nueva York

(Alex Kent / AFP)

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This Friday, a New Jersey businessman testified in the corruption case against Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, revealing that he bribed the legislator by giving his wife a Mercedes-Benz convertible in exchange for political favors.

José Uribe, an insurance broker who pleaded guilty to bribery charges in March and is now cooperating with prosecutors, appeared in a Manhattan federal court to provide key testimony against the senator and his wife, Nadine Menendez.

The 57-year-old businessman explained that in 2018, his then-friend Wael Hana, who is also on trial along with Senator Menendez, told him that New Jersey criminal investigations that threatened both a friend's trucking business and his own insurance company could be resolved if he was willing to pay for it.

As part of this agreement, Uribe purchased a luxury vehicle valued at $60,000 and gave it to Nadine Menendez. In exchange, Senator Menendez supposedly used his influence to stop criminal investigations that the New Jersey attorney general's office was conducting.

"I agreed to provide a car for Nadine to get the power and influence from Senator Menendez. The deal is to kill and stop all investigations,” Uribe stated.

Corruption accusations

The case has raised serious allegations against Menendez and his wife, accused of accepting "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in bribes, including gold bars, in exchange for official favors from the senator. However, Menendez's attorney, Ari Weitzman, insists his client is innocent and that there is an explanation for the money he received. “There won’t be a single piece of tangible evidence the senator accepted a bribe,” he said.

History of accusations

It should be noted that this is not the first time Menendez has faced accusations of bribery. In 2015, he was accused of accepting illegal favors from a Florida ophthalmologist, charges he denied. That case resulted in a mistrial, as jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict, and prosecutors opted not to hold a new trial.