The federal criminal corruption investigation into Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NY), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has recently expanded after another round of grand jury subpoenas were sent out this week.
NBC News reported that the new criminal investigation into Menendez, which first made news last October, originally centered around how IS EG Halal, a New Jersey-based halal meat business, won “an exclusive worldwide contract with Egypt to certify halal exports — as numerous other firms’ contracts were suddenly canceled in 2019.”
Numerous sources told the publication that the U.S. Agriculture Department was suspicious over how the large contract was awarded to the company which had “little experience.”
Menendez’s wife is friends with the company’s owners, the report said, and the senator’s position as chairman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee puts him in charge of billions of dollars in weapons sales to Egypt.
However, the latest subpoenas that were issued in the criminal investigation are not related to allegations involving the meat company and Menendez, the report said.
Sources told the publication that the North Bergen Democrat Mayor Nicholas Sacco was one of the people who received a subpoena in this last batch to go out. The report described Sacco as a “powerful” politician in New Jersey.
The subpoena seeks information about “certain legislative changes in New Jersey,” the report said, but no further details were available.
In 2015, Menendez was indicted on bribery charges for allegedly accepting “luxury vacations, golf outings, campaign donations and expensive flights” from Florida physician Salomon Melgen in exchange for political favors. A federal jury in Florida convicted Melgen in April of “67 charges for operating what prosecutors called a massive scheme that robbed Medicare out of as much as $105 million,” the Palm Beach Post reported.
Prosecutors began investigating Menendez when they were tipped off in 2012 that Menendez was allegedly having sex with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.
The jury was split in the trial and a mistrial was declared.
The DOJ was set to re-charge Menendez when the judge dismissed 7 of the 18 charges against him, the report said.
A separate report from Semafor said that the new criminal case against Menendez mirrors the prior criminal case that Menendez faced.
The report noted that federal prosecutors rarely ever lose in court and so the fact that they are bringing a new criminal case against Menendez “after its humiliating public failure to convict him” likely means that they believe they have a stronger case this time.
When a mistrial was declared during the first criminal case, Menendez resorted to implying that racists were the reason he came under investigation. Prosecutors ultimately decided against retrying him.