Insurance agent pleads guilty, will testify in bribery case against Sen. Menendez

Insurance agent pleads guilty, will testify in bribery case against Sen. Menendez

A former New Jersey insurance agent has agreed to a deal with prosecutors that will see him testify in the federal corruption case against U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.

In federal court in Manhattan last Friday, Jose Uribe pleaded guilty to seven charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery and extortion, honest services fraud, obstruction of justice related to insurance fraud investigations, and tax evasion related to several businesses controlled by Uribe.

Uribe pleaded guilty to trying to influence Senator Menendez by paying for a Mercedes Benz convertible for the senator’s wife so that the senator would try to influence officials to drop investigations into a business associate and an agency employee suspected of involvement in insurance fraud. fraud.

Uribe, who pleaded guilty in 2011 to insurance premium fraud, is among three businessmen charged in a federal corruption case filed against Menendez and his wife last fall. In exchange for a potential leniency in sentencing, Uribe agreed to testify against the other defendants, forfeit all property he earned through his crimes and pay $246,000.

Senator Menendez and his wife, Nadine, are accused of accepting bribes in the form of cash, gold bullion, furniture and a luxury car in exchange for the senator’s alleged favors, which included sharing sensitive information and taking other actions to benefit the government of Egypt and pressuring government officials to help three New Jersey businessmen, including Uribe.

Insurance fraud

In December 2011, when he owned Inter America Insurance Agency, Uribe pleaded guilty to third-degree theft by deception and was sentenced to three years probation by a New Jersey judge. According to the New Jersey Attorney General, Uribe admitted that between May 30, 2003 and February 22, 2010, he received $76,819 in insurance premiums from seven clients, giving the false impression that he was funneling the money to insurance carriers to secure commercial car insurance. In reality, he did not remit the premium payments to the insurance carriers.

The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance revoked the insurance licenses of Uribe and his agency and ordered him to pay a $92,500 fine. According to the indictment, Uribe now works in the trucking industry.

In the Menendez affair, Uribe was accused of providing Nadine Menendez with a Mercedes-Benz in exchange for her husband to intervene with the attorney general’s office on behalf of an associate who was accused of insurance fraud involving a trucking company that was his insurance client, and also on behalf of one of the employees of his insurance agency, whom Uribe referred to as a relative, who was being investigated for allegedly submitting the insurance applications at issue in the criminal case.

Allegations of interference

According to prosecutors, Senator Menendez agreed to try to intervene in the cases in exchange for the Mercedes. Uribe provided the $15,000 down payment on the car and arranged for monthly payments on the remaining $60,000 to be paid off.

Prosecutors say Menendez contacted a senior prosecutor in the New Jersey attorney general’s office “in an attempt through advice and pressure” to “favorably resolve these matters.” According to the indictment, the employee in the attorney general’s office did not share with prosecutors that Menendez had contacted him about the matter and he did not intervene in the matter.

The associate at Uribe’s trucking company was eventually able to resolve his prosecution with a no-prison plea deal, a decision that was “more favorable” than prosecutors’ initial offer earlier in the case, according to prosecutors.

About six months later, prosecutors alleged that Senator Menendez tried to interfere in the investigation of an agency official who was a relative of Uribe. In late October, the Menendezes, Uribe and the relative met for a holiday dinner, prosecutors said, citing a photo they obtained that apparently shows the three toasting with glasses of champagne.

The Menendezs have denied wrongdoing, and the senator said he believes that when all the facts are presented, he will not only be exonerated, but “will still be the senior senator of New Jersey.”

Themes
Agencies New Jersey

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