One of the accusations authorities have leveled against Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and his wife is that they accepted a luxury car in return for influence peddling. It turns out that car was needed, prosecutors allege, as a replacement after the Democrat's soon-to-be wife totaled her old vehicle in a crash that killed a man in 2018.
Nadine Arslanian, who would go on to marry Menendez in 2020, struck and killed a man named Richard Koop in Bogota, New Jersey, in December 2018. Arslanian, whom one witness said was known by police officers, was determined to be "not at fault" and was let go without a summons, the New York Times reported.
The couple was indicted by federal prosecutors last month on bribery charges. Menendez is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, which officers found in gold bars and cash—as well as a luxury car—in return for helping the Egyptian government and his associates.
The car, prosecutors allege, was needed to replace Arslanian's that was wrecked in the fatal crash, the Times reported:
Prosecutors said in those charging papers that Ms. Menendez needed a car so badly after a December 2018 "accident" that the senator, a Democrat, was willing to try to suppress an unrelated criminal prosecution for a New Jersey businessman in exchange for a $60,000 Mercedes convertible.
The fatal collision with Mr. Koop on Dec. 12 matches prosecutors’ terse description of the December 2018 crash.
One witness at the scene said in an interview that officers appeared to know who Ms. Menendez was and treated her with striking deference. Police recordings captured the voice of a man who identifies himself as a retired police officer from a nearby department. He can be heard saying he came to the scene as "a favor" to a friend whose wife knew Ms. Menendez.
Prosecutors allege that the senator shared "sensitive" federal information with foreign entities. He also allegedly pushed bureaucrats in the Department of Energy, State Department, and U.S. attorney’s office to benefit his associates with business contracts and "disrupt" a fraud investigation by the federal government.
Menendez also allegedly "secretly edited and ghost-wrote" a letter on behalf of the Egyptian government.