Nadine Arslanian, who would later go on to marry New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and become Nadine Menendez, hit and killed a pedestrian in a 2018 car crash, which is alleged to be the inception of a bribe in the federal indictment against the couple, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
According to the Times, Nadine Menendez struck 49-year-old Richard Koop with her Mercedes-Benz sedan in Bogota, New Jersey, in December 2018, killing him. She was driving alone, the newspaper reported.
Police questioned Nadine Menendez and concluded she was not at fault for the crash, the Times reported, and she was released without a summons.
Nadine Menendez was never tested for drugs or alcohol and was allowed to leave the scene of the crash, according to the Times. Authorities must demonstrate probable cause a driver was impaired before testing for alcohol immediately after a crash, Joseph Rotella, a former president of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey, told the newspaper.
The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office declined to charge her, the Times reported, and the office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN.
When asked to provide the police report from the crash, the Bogota Police Department told CNN to make a public records request.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Sen. Menendez addressed the car crash.
“That was a tragic accident,” the Democrat said. “Obviously, we think of the family.”
The recently uncovered information about the 2018 car crash adds new context to the federal indictment released last month against the Menendezes and three others.
According to the indictment, Nadine Menendez was involved in a car accident around December 2018 that left her without a car.
The indictment goes on to allege that two of the co-defendants in the case, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe, “offered and then helped to buy” a new Mercedes-Benz convertible worth more than $60,000 for Nadine Menendez in exchange for Sen. Menendez’s interference in a New Jersey state criminal prosecution of one of Uribe’s associates and a related state criminal probe involving one of Uribe’s employees.
According to the indictment, Sen. Menendez agreed to disrupt the criminal matters in New Jersey.
Both Bob and Nadine Menendez have pleaded not guilty to all three counts they face as part of the alleged bribery conspiracy. The other three co-defendants have also denied the charges.
CNN has reached out to a lawyer representing Nadine Menendez for comment. In an interview with the Times, Nadine Menendez’s lawyer said the car crash was a “tragic accident” but was unrelated to her current charges.
“My understanding was this individual ran in front of her car, and she was not at fault,” David Schertler told the Times.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated Jose Uribe’s name.
Elaine Hadley is a dedicated journalist covering the ever-evolving landscape of U.S. news. With a keen interest in politics and a commitment to uncovering the truth, she provides insightful commentary and in-depth analysis on domestic issues. When not reporting, Elaine enjoys exploring the diverse cultures and landscapes of the United States.