New Jersey AG’s public integrity unit reviewing handling of fatal crash involving Sen. Menendez’s wife

One day after police records revealed that the woman who is now Sen. Bob Menendez’s wife was involved in a deadly car crash in 2018, NBC New York has learned that New Jersey investigators are reviewing how local authorities handled the case at the time.

Investigators from the New Jersey attorney general’s Office of Public Integrity & Accountability were at the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday asking questions and seeking documents, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The questions were related to the December 2018 crash in which Nadine Menendez, then Nadine Arslanian, was behind the wheel of car that killed pedestrian Richard Koop, 49. The two sources familiar with the matter said the public integrity review is in its early stages and will include a look at how Bogota, New Jersey, police handled the scene where Koop died.

Bob Menendez and Nadine Arslanian were married in 2020, nearly two years after the crash. They were indicted on federal bribery charges last month and have pleaded not guilty.

A spokesman for Attorney General Matt Platkin’s office declined to comment on the actions of the investigators from office’s public integrity unit.

What remains unclear, and what Koop’s family wants to know, is how thoroughly police handled the crime scene, whether investigators should have done more to review Nadine Menendez’s phone records earlier, whether a breath or blood test should have been requested even though Menendez had no apparent signs of impairment, what role a retired law enforcement official played after having been called to the scene to assist Menendez and who called the official to the scene.

A lawyer for Koop’s family said the questions are troubling. The family has been critical of Nadine Menendez, claiming she did nothing to help the man dying in the road.

political wife senator (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images file)

“She did nothing to come and render any aid. She moved her car out of the way, but she never came — for the entire length of the video that I was given, she never came to look at him, didn’t even she — never check to see if he’s alive,” attorney Sheri Breen said.

An attorney for Nadine Menendez did not return calls seeking comment. Police said she was not at fault for the crash, as Koop apparently jaywalked on his way home after a night of drinking with friends.

Sen. Menendez seemed to comment publicly on the crash for the first time Wednesday, calling it “tragic.”

The crash appears to be linked to the bribery charges against the Menendezes. The FBI alleges the couple turned to New Jersey businessman Jose Uribe for help replacing the Mercedes-Benz damaged in the collision.

In exchange, feds said, Menendez agreed to try to pressure the state attorney general’s office about a past criminal investigation Uribe was concerned about. The couple and three businessmen charged in the sprawling bribery case deny wrongdoing, and all have pleaded not guilty.

The FBI said that businessman Fred Daibes gave gold bars and money to Sen. Menendez and that, in exchange, he allegedly wanted the senator’s help in pressuring the New Jersey U.S. attorney’s office to go easy on him regarding his separate bank fraud charges.

Daibes later took a plea deal with an expected sentence of no jail time, but a judge in New Jersey threw the deal out on Thursday.

“The Court hereby rejects the plea agreement,” U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton wrote in a filing.

Lawyers for Daibes did not reply to requests for comment.

Federal prosecutors said Monday some additional charges could soon be filed in the bribery case.

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