Nadine Arslanian, who would later marry New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and become Nadine Menendez, struck and killed a pedestrian in a car crash in 2018, according to a police report. This car accident is believed to be the start of a bribe in the federal indictment against the couple.
According to a report from the Bogota, New Jersey Police Department, Arslanian hit Richard Koop, 49, with his Mercedes-Benz sedan in Bogota in December 2018, killing him. She was driving alone.
Police questioned Arslanian and concluded she was not responsible for the accident, the report states, and she was released without summons and allowed to leave the scene of the accident. The pedestrian, Koop, was walking on the sidewalk, according to the police report.
According to the New York Times, Arslanian was never tested for drugs or alcohol. Authorities must demonstrate probable cause of a driver’s impairment before conducting a blood-alcohol test immediately after a crash, Joseph Rotella, former president of the New Jersey Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, told the newspaper.
The Bergen County District Attorney’s Office declined to charge him, the Times reported, and the office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Sen. Menendez discussed the car crash.
“It was a tragic accident,” the Democrat said. “Of course, we think of the family.
Newly uncovered information about the 2018 car crash adds new context to the federal indictment released last month against Nadine Menendez, her senator husband 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 this case, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe, “offered and then assisted in purchasing” a new Mercedes-Benz convertible worth more than $60,000 for Nadine Menendez in exchange for Senator Menendez. interference with a criminal prosecution in the State of New Jersey against one of Uribe’s associates and a related criminal investigation involving one of Uribe’s employees.
According to the indictment, Senator Menendez agreed to disrupt criminal matters in New Jersey.
Bob and Nadine Menendez have pleaded not guilty to all three counts they face in connection with the alleged bribery conspiracy. The other three co-accused also denied the charges.
CNN has contacted an attorney representing Nadine Menendez for comment. In an interview with The Times, Nadine Menendez’s attorney said the car crash was a “tragic accident” but had nothing to do with the charges currently against her.
“My understanding is that this person ran in front of his car and was not at fault,” David Schertler told the Times.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated Jose Uribe’s name.
This story has been updated with additional information.