A federal grand jury issued new subpoenas last week, broadening the scope of a criminal corruption investigation involving a long-serving senator Democrat.
NBC News reports that the corruption investigation involving Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has expanded to include at least one other prominent New Jersey politician, North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco.
“As they always have, Mayor Sacco and the Township of North Bergen will comply with any inquiry they receive from law enforcement and will cooperate fully.”, a representative for North Bergen told NBC News.
Menendez has been the subject of a criminal investigation for several months over allegations that he improperly accepted money and gifts from the Edgewater-based owners of the halal meat company IS EG Halal. Menendez and the business’s owners have consistently denied any misconduct.
“I know of an investigation. Don’t know the scope or the subjects and, of course, stand ready to help authorities when and if they ask any questions,” Menendez reportedly stated this in October, per the source.
According to the sources, the recently issued subpoenas, including the one for Sacco, are unrelated to any allegations regarding the livestock industry.
However, the subpoenas are still a part of the broader investigation into Menendez, and they request information regarding specific legislative developments in New Jersey.
NBC News reports that Sacco, a Democrat, received a subpoena on Wednesday, one day after being reelected mayor.
“On Wednesday morning Mayor Sacco was issued a subpoena seeking information and records regarding several different matters that he was informed are being sought in connection to an ongoing investigation that is not related to him,” said a mayoral spokesman in a statement issued Friday.
“Mayor Sacco has been assured that he is not a target of the investigation and was approached only as a potential witness, and he intends to cooperate fully and provide any requested information as he would with any law enforcement inquiry,” the spokesman noted further.
Both the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, who is in command of the federal investigation, declined to comment.
NBC News also reported:
As for Menendez and IS EG Halal, questions persist about how the company won an exclusive worldwide contract with Egypt to certify halal exports — as numerous other firms’ contracts were suddenly canceled in 2019.
Numerous other sources familiar with the matter said some officials at the U.S. Agriculture Department were among those who raised concerns about how the contract was awarded to a New Jersey firm with little experience.
In addition, numerous sources said Menendez’s wife is friends with IS EG’s owners. Menendez chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which oversees billions of dollars in U.S. aid to Egypt. Lawyers for IS EG have denied any wrongdoing, and the owners have said they won the contract with Egypt on the merits. Other firms in the industry, however, have been raising questions.
“This was an unfortunate decision as all of us certifiers lost our authorizations to provide Halal certification for Egypt. This had a severe impact on the industry,” the USA Halal Chamber of Commerce announced in a statement last week.
In 2015, Menendez was accused of illegally receiving favors from an eye doctor in Florida and was charged with federal corruption. There were allegations that he received private aircraft travel, a luxurious hotel stay in Paris, and more than $700,000 in political contributions for himself and the Democratic Party.
According to NBC News, the jury’s incapacity to reach a verdict led to the mistrial in that case.
Menendez, on the other hand, has served in the United States Senate since 2006. In 2016, he is standing for re-election.