Defendant in Menendez corruption case pleads guilty, agrees to cooperate with prosecutors, and will testify against senator

In the corruption investigation of Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a co-defendant has pleaded guilty and will now cooperate with federal prosecutors.

Jose Uribe, a businessman accused of providing a luxury convertible to Senator Nadine’s wife, has admitted guilt on seven charges related to the corruption investigation. The plea agreement filed with the court reveals that Uribe pleaded guilty to offenses such as conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services fraud, and obstruction of justice.

Uribe has agreed to cooperate with the prosecution and is willing to testify against Menendez, a three-term Democrat.

The plea agreement states that the defendant is required to truthfully and fully disclose all information regarding his activities and the activities of others in relation to all matters that are being investigated by this Office.

In September 2023, federal prosecutors indicted Bob and Nadine Menendez, alleging that they received bribes in the form of gold bars, a luxury car, and cash. The bribes were allegedly given in exchange for the couple’s assistance to the Egyptian government and private individuals.

According to prosecutors, Jose Uribe, a New Jersey businessman in the trucking and insurance industry, was friends with co-defendant Wael Hana. It is alleged that Hana and Uribe arranged for Nadine Menendez to receive a Mercedes convertible as a favor after the senator made a call to a government official regarding another case involving an associate of Uribe.

Nadine Menendez reportedly texted her husband, expressing her excitement and joy, saying, “Congratulations mon amour de la vie, we are the proud owners of a 2019 Mercedes.” She even added a heart emoji to convey her emotions.

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Uribe is said to have given the Mercedes to Bob Menendez and his wife, reportedly in exchange for assistance in a criminal investigation involving his associates who were being targeted by the New Jersey state attorney general’s office. It is alleged that Menendez directly contacted the then-New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal regarding this matter.

Uribe, along with Hana and Fred Daibes, is one of three businessmen accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from the couple.

Bob Menendez, along with his wife and the rest of the defendants, have all entered pleas of not guilty. Previously, Uribe had also pleaded not guilty in October, but made a surprising change in his plea on Friday.

If Uribe was found guilty on all seven counts, he could have been sentenced to a maximum of 95 years in prison. However, it remains uncertain what specific prison term he will serve as a consequence of the plea bargain.

Adam Fee, the attorney representing Menendez, expressed in a statement that Senator Menendez has consistently presented the law and evidence that clearly indicate the charges against him should never have been brought forward. Fee emphasized that the recent news of Mr. Uribe changing his plea does not alter the fundamental truth that Senator Menendez is innocent and that the prosecutors have made an incorrect judgment. Fee also stated that Senator Menendez remains committed to proving his innocence before a jury and is eager for the opportunity to do so.

Jonathan Dienst holds the position of chief justice contributor for NBC News and serves as the chief investigative reporter for WNBC-TV in New York.

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Tom Winter, a correspondent based in New York, covers crime, courts, terrorism, and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

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