An Egyptian-American businessman charged with bribing New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez with gold bars tried to distance himself from the alleged crooked pol Tuesday by claiming, through his lawyer, that they weren’t friends.
Wael Hana, 40 – formerly of Edgewater, NJ – pleaded not guilty during a hearing in Manhattan federal court over allegations he bribed the veteran Democrat with at least two one-ounce gold bars, exercise machines, an air purifier and three payments of $10,000 to his wife Nadine Menendez, who is also charged in the scheme.
Outside court after the hearing, Hana’s lawyer Lawrence Lustberg said his client didn’t consider himself pals with the longtime Garden State senator, but admitted he had known Nadine for “many, many years.”
“He pleaded not guilty because he’s not guilty,” Lustberg said.
(…) Magistrate Judge Ona Wang allowed Hana to walk free on a $5 million personal bond secured by $300,000 cash and shares of company Capitol Management LLC. It was unclear what Hana’s relationship was to the company.
Hana cannot travel outside of New Jersey and parts of New York.
He was charged in a sweeping indictment Friday with having a corrupt agreement with Menendez, in which the since-resigned chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would allegedly dole out political favors for the Egyptian government and for Hana in exchange for the bribes. (Read more: New York Post, 9/26/2023) (Archive)