Sen. Bob Menendez allegedly bragged to NJ businessman who bought wife Mercedes: ‘I saved your ass’

Sen. Bob Menendez boasted that he saved the “ass” of a New Jersey insurance broker who bought his wife a new Mercedes in exchange for help killing a state criminal probe — part of a plot hatched over cognac and at swanky New Jersey eateries, a court heard Monday.

“I saved your ass, not once but twice,” the Garden State Democrat bragged to Jose Uribe during an August 2020 dinner at the upscale Spanish restaurant Segovia in north Jersey, Uribe testified at Menendez’s bribery trial in Manhattan federal court.

Menendez, 70, was allegedly crowing about tampering with state officials on behalf of Uribe’s friend Elvis Parra, who received a no-jail sentence after pleading guilty to insurance fraud, and interfering with a second probe that threatened to ensnare Uribe’s relatives, the key prosecution witness said.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez told insurance broker Juan Uribe he “saved his ass” after he killed a state criminal probe, according to testimony from Uribe. AP Photo/Larry Newmeister
Uribe claimed that Menendez made the statement during an August 2020 dinner. AP Photo/Larry Newmeister

“He was proud and confident that he managed to get this done,” Uribe testified.

Uribe, 57, described several in-person meetings with the veteran pol — some that appeared straight out of a mob movie — that could prove pivotal to the case, given that the senator’s lawyers have blamed the bribes on Menendez’s wife and claimed that she “sidelined” him.

Menendez “knew of the names” of people Uribe wanted him to interfere on behalf of, the witness said while describing an August 2019 meeting with the senator at the white tablecloth Il Villaggio restaurant in Bergen County

“We will look into it,” Uribe testified that Menendez told him.

Uribe allegedly bought Menendez’s wife a Mercedes in exchange for the favor. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Menendez, wearing a dark blue suit and pink tie, shook his head and muttered something to his lawyers as Uribe described the dinner at the Italian eatery.

Uribe was then invited to the Menendez couple’s Edgewater Cliffs home on Sept.5, 2019, he testified.

As he swigged glasses of Grand Marnier and smoked cigars with the senator in the backyard, Menendez rung a small bell and said “mon amour” — “my love” in French — to summon Nadine into the room, Uribe said.

Nadine then produced a piece of paper, on which Uribe wrote the names of people he wanted to see dodge prosecution, he said.

The senator folded up the piece of paper and put it in his pocket, Uribe testified.

The next morning, the senator allegedly pressured ex-New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to speak about an active criminal probe at a meeting that the top prosecutor’s deputy called “gross,” Grewal testified.

Uribe testified that Menendez was “proud and confident” about tampering with state officials. Elizabeth Williams via AP

“I can’t talk to you about this,” Grewal recalled telling the powerful then-head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In what was his second day on the stand, Uribe also testified that he handed Nadine Menendez an envelope stuffed with $15,000 — the first payment toward the Mercedes convertible — in the parking lot of Italian restaurant Villa Amalfi in April 2019.

Nadine and intermediary Wael Hana, who is also facing trial, had allegedly passed on the names of the people Uribe wanted to “kill” the state probes of to the senator, Uribe testified Friday.

Menendez leaving Manhattan federal court on June 10, 2024. AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah

Hana had told Uribe that he had “a way to make these things go away” for around $200,000 or $250,000,” Uribe told jurors.

“Nadine will work with — go to Senator Menendez,” Uribe testified.

Menendez’s lawyer began cross-examining Uribe Monday afternoon, and will continue on Tuesday morning.

New Jersey’s senior senator and his wife Nadine are accused of accepting the luxury car, more than $150,000 in gold bars, $566,000 in cash payments and other gifts in exchange for favors to local businessmen and the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

Uribe — who lost his insurance broker license after being convicted of fraud in 2011 — pleaded guilty in March and agreed to flip on Menendez, who has refused to resign from the Senate even after both Democrats and Republicans have urged him to step aside.