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Insurance Agent Pleads Guilty, Will Testify in Bribery Case Against Senator Menendez *Centurion Insurance AFS*

Mar 05, 2024 (0) comment , , , , , , , , , ,

A former New Jersey insurance agent has agreed to a deal with prosecutors under which he will testify in the federal corruption case against U.S. Senator 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 wire fraud, obstruction of justice related to insurance fraud investigations, and tax evasion related to several businesses Uribe controlled.

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 end investigations into a business associate and an agency employee suspected of involvement in insurance fraud.

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

Senator Menendez and his wife, Nadine, have been charged with accepting bribes in the form of cash, gold bars, furnishings and the luxury car in exchange for the senator’s alleged favors that included sharing sensitive information and taking other actions to benefit the government of Egypt and pressuring government officials to aid 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 of probation by a New Jersey judge. According to the New Jersey attorney general, Uribe admitted that between May 30, 2003 and Feb. 22, 2010, he obtained $76,819 in insurance premiums from seven clients by creating the false impression that he was remitting the monies to insurance carriers to secure commercial automobile 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 $92,500 in fines. According to the indictment, Uribe now works in the trucking industry.

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

Intervention Allegations

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

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

Uribe’s trucking company associate was eventually able to resolve his criminal prosecution with a plea agreement with no jail time, a resolution that was “more favorable” than the prosecutors’ initial plea offer earlier in the case, according to prosecutors.

About six months later, prosecutors allege Senator Menendez attempted to intervene in the investigation of agency employee who was Uribe’s relative. In late October, the Menendezes, Uribe and the relative met for a celebratory dinner, prosecutors claim, citing a photo they obtained apparently showing the three toasting with glasses of champagne.

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

New Jersey

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