Report: Menendez investigated over expensive gifts, meat contract
🔴 Sen. Bob Menendez said he doesn't know why he under a federal investigation
🔴 Sources say he accepted a luxury car and apartment
🔴 Charges over gifts were thrown out in 2018
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is under investigation for luxury gifts he and his wife received in exchange for a Halal meat certification, sources close to the investigation told NBC 4 New York.
New Jersey's senior senator acknowledged in October to Politico he is under a federal criminal investigation but said he does not know the reason.
NBC 4 New York reports the Justice Department is looking into a Mercedes and a luxury apartment in Washington and cash, among other expensive gifts, accepted by Menendez and his wife Nadine from IS EG Halal, an Edgewater producer of Halal meats.
The investigation is reportedly focused on two issues. One is whether or not the gifts were properly reported on his senate disclosure forms.
The second issue is whether the gifts influenced a contract awarded by the Egyptian government to IS EG Halal allowing them to certify Halal meat exports worldwide even though the United States Department of Agriculture officials said the company had no previous experience in this field.
Menendez told NBC 4 New York last week that the investigation was “absolutely nothing” and denied wrongdoing.
Problem gifts in the past
It would not be the first time gifts have been investigated by the feds.
Menendez, 63, was accused of using his political influence to help Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen in exchange for luxury vacations in the Caribbean and Paris, flights on Melgen's private jet and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to organizations that supported the senator directly or indirectly.
Prosecutors said Menendez, in return, pressured government officials on Melgen's behalf over an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute and a stalled contract to provide port screening equipment in the Dominican Republic, and also helped obtain U.S. visas for the 63-year-old doctor's girlfriends.
Menendez's lawyers argued that the gifts were not bribes but tokens of friendship between two men who were "like brothers."
The case went to trial in 2017 but the case ended in a hung jury. All charges were eventually dropped.
Previous reporting by Sergio Bichao was used in this report.
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