Two words best describe the latest developments in the Menendez case: sordid and seamy.
Remember the Mercedes Benz that the senior Senator from New Jersey was bribed with? It turns out that a new car was needed because his second wife was involved in a fatal car accident in 2018. She was unhurt but her car was wrecked. That was what the Menendezes cared about. They didn’t care that she’d killed a man named Richard Koop.
“New Jersey newspaper The Record reported on Wednesday that Arslanian Menendez was driving on East Main Street in Bogota, New Jersey, on December 12, 2018, when she struck 49-year-old Richard Koop with her Mercedes-Benz, killing him. Officers arrived on the scene at 7:35 p.m and found Koop lying in the road just outside of his home, suffering from “severe head trauma, bleeding from the back of his head, bleeding from the face and possible fractured legs and arms,” according to a report from the Bogota Police Department. He was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The same police report determined that Arslanian Menendez was not at fault in the crash, writing that Koop had been jaywalking and didn’t cross the street properly. But many questions remain about the incident. Arslanian Menendez was allowed to leave the scene without being tested for drugs and alcohol, according to the New York Times. Dashcam video recorded on the night of the accident shows that a man who identified himself as a retired police officer from Hackensack joined Arslanian Menendez at the scene and started talking to law enforcement, saying she was a friend of his friend’s wife.”
Sounds like a fixer to me such as Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction or Ray Donovan in Ray Donovan. Details are sparse but that part of the story inspired the post title.
I’m having another Life Imitates The Sopranos moment as well. Senator Menendez sounds like Peter Riegert’s corrupt politician character. But Ronald Zellman was a mere member of the state lege, not the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. Menendez acted like he was doing the world a favor when he stepped aside from that position. Go fuck yourself, Bob. And while you’re at it, resign.
Back to the accident itself. In most jurisdictions fatal car wrecks aren’t treated so cavalierly. The investigation is best described as perfunctory.
Here are some troubling details:
Most drivers who kill someone are taken to a police station to be questioned. The Senator’s then fiancée and current co-defendant Nadine Arslanian Menendez was not. She was allowed to go home.
Most drivers who kill someone are drug and alcohol tested. The Senator’s then fiancée and current co-defendant Nadine Arslanian Menendez was not.
Most drivers who kill someone are given a ticket or a summons. The Senator’s then fiancée and current co-defendant Nadine Arslanian Menendez was not.
Most drivers who kill someone are investigated thoroughly. The Senator’s then fiancée and current co-defendant Nadine Arslanian Menendez was not.
The police *may* have drawn the right conclusions; it may well have been an accident. But there was also a cover-up and special treatment of the sort that Senator Menendez is known for. Bob Menendez’s picture is in the dictionary next to corrupt piece of shit. He’s used to being in trouble and oozing his way out of it. Most people would have learned something after escaping jail via a hung jury in 2017. Senator Menendez did not.
The original reports of the Menendez indictment focused on the cartoonish aspects of the case. I did it myself. Let’s face it, gold bars and cold hard cash *are* funny. Negligent vehicular manslaughter is not. Neither is this:
“In the indictment, they mention nothing more about the collision than that it “left her without a car.” But court papers clarify what prosecutors allege came next.
They said Ms. Menendez sent multiple text messages to Mr. Hana complaining she did not have a car. But two friends, Mr. Menendez and another New Jersey businessman who was close to Mr. Hana, Jose Uribe, soon agreed to terms to rectify that.
According to the indictment, Mr. Menendez agreed to call a senior prosecutor at the New Jersey attorney general’s office in late January to try to pressure him to go easy on an associate of Mr. Uribe. Mr. Uribe, in return, agreed to finance a car, prosecutors said. His lawyer did not return requests for comment.
“All is GREAT! I’m so excited to get a car next week. !!” Ms. Menendez texted Mr. Hana a few days after the senator placed the call.”
That exciting news led to Nadine Arslanian Menendez’s indictment alongside her husband. A car is all they cared about, not a human life that was lost on that cold December night in Bogota, New Jersey.
The state police should reopen the investigation into the fatal accident. The result might be the same, but it won’t be tainted by the corrosive corruption of Bob Menendez, the man who cares more about a car than Richard Koop. Koop’s family demands action. So should we all.
Repeat after me: Bob Menendez’s picture is in the dictionary next to corrupt piece of shit.
The last word goes to Janis Joplin: