New Jersey businessman in Menendez case pleads guilty and cooperates with authorities

A New Jersey businessman who was indicted alongside New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez has pleaded guilty to charges related to the bribery scheme and is cooperating with federal prosecutors in the ongoing investigation.

Jose Uribe, who was indicted in the corruption scheme alongside the senator, his wife Nadine Menendez and two other businessmen, is the first person to plead guilty to the charges and the first insider to agree to cooperate with prosecutors.

The development puts more pressure on Sen. Menendez, who has vigorously denied any wrongdoing, and comes just two months before his trial, which is scheduled to start in May.

Uribe waived his indictment and pleaded guilty to seven counts on Friday, according to the court records and a superseding information document filed in the case. Under the plea deal, Uribe has agreed to testify at the trial and cooperate with authorities, according to his deal that was signed on Friday.

Uribe is scheduled to be sentenced on June 14. His attorney, Dan Fetterman, declined to comment.

Menendez has rejected calls by fellow Democrats to step down. He, his wife and two other New Jersey businessman have pleaded not guilty.

Menendez and the others were charged in a sweeping bribery scheme last year. Prosecutors allege the New Jersey senator and his wife received gold bars, cash, a Mercedes Benz convertible and other items in exchange for taking steps to help the three businessman, including Uribe, and the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

According to the indictment, Uribe’s role appeared to be centered on payments he made for the convertible to aid his associates. It isn’t clear how widespread his knowledge is of the other allegations.

Uribe pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and honest services wire fraud for providing payments for the luxury convertible for Nadine Menendez. In exchange, prosecutors allege, the senator agreed to attempt to influence New Jersey state criminal prosecutions of one of Uribe’s employees and an associate.

Uribe also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice for causing his former attorney to make false statements to federal prosecutors in July 2023. At the time, Uribe’s then-attorney told prosecutors that the payments made for the luxury car were loans, which authorities allege were lies intended to interfere with the investigation into Menendez.

In addition, Uribe also pleaded guilty to tax evasion for years 2016 through 2021. He admitted to providing fake tax returns to obtain a loan from a bank and cause another person to use that information to obtain money from the Small Business Association’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Uribe has agreed to forfeit $246,000 for the loans, under the plea deal.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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