N.J. Sen. Bob Menendez co-defendant pleads guilty to bribery, obstruction of justice

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., walks through the Senate subway at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., earlier in February. The senator has maintained his innocence amid a corruption scandal, although his co-defendant's pled guilty to related charges on Friday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
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March 1 (UPI) -- A co-defendant in the corruption case against Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has pleaded guilty.

Former New Jersey insurance broker Jose Uribe pleaded guilty Friday in Manhattan federal court to seven counts, which include conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services wire fraud, obstruction of justice, tax evasion and other charges.

Uribe was first indicted on two charges last fall, and his plea included five more charges. He originally was accused of gifting the senator and his wife, Nadine Menendez, a Mercedes-Benz in exchange for the senator's help in disrupting an insurance fraud investigation against him.

Judge Sidney Stein set Uribe's sentencing for June 14, which means it could come amid the trial of the Menendez's and the two remaining co-defendants, which is set for May 6.

Egyptian businessman Wael Hana and real estate developer Fred Daibes were charged alongside the Mendendez's and have pleaded not guilty.

Menendez pleaded not guilty in October to charges alleging he accepted bribes to act as a foreign agent to the Egyptian government between 2018 and 2022.

The charges alleged the Menendez's received "hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes," gold bars, and a Mercedes in exchange for exploitation of their influence.

The senator has maintained his innocence and ignored calls for him to step down from Congress, but he did step down from his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"Everything I've accomplished I've worked for despite the naysayers and everyone who has underestimated me," Menendez said in September. "I recognize this will be the biggest fight yet. But as I have stated throughout this whole process, I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey's senior senator."

Uribe's plea, however, affirms many of the charges against Menendez. The businessman on Friday admitted he lied to prosecutors that the payments he made for the car were a loan.

Prosecutors said the false statement was "an effort to interfere" with the investigation into Menendez.

Uribe also pleaded guilty to tax evasion for not reporting certain incomes between 2016 and 2021.