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Nadine Menendez Might’ve Received Mercedes As Consolation Bribe After Pedestrian She Killed Ruined Her Car
Menendez corruption case takes a sick turn.
One almost overlooked item in the sordid bribery charges against (still!) Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife Nadine was a $60,000 Mercedes convertible that she allegedly received as a “gift” in exchange for Menendez interfering in a New Jersey state criminal prosecution. Back in January 2019, Nadine had reportedly texted with businessman Wael Hana, who was charged in an alleged corruption scheme, and complained about not having a car.
It turns out the reason Nadine Menendez was down a Mercedes was because she’d seriously injured her last one when she’d struck and killed a pedestrian, Richard Koop, in Bogota, New Jersey, on December 12, 2018.
Nadine, who was dating Menendez at the time, was driving through the New Jersey suburb in a black Mercedes sedan. She claimed she did not see Koop attempting to cross a busy thoroughfare just steps from his home. (An Uber had dropped him off across the street, which is an irritating Uber habit.)
Koop was found lying in the road with “severe head trauma, bleeding from the back of his head, bleeding from the face, and possible fractured legs and arms” when police arrived shortly after 7:30 p.m., according to police records obtained by NBC News that also said the responding officer described Koop as unconscious and not breathing.
[Nadine] was “bleeding from her hands” and had hit a parked car after she struck Koop, police records showed.
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Koop’s body was badly mangled. His ex-wife Danielle DeBouter identified the body but said he was almost unrecognizable.
Obviously, Nadine (then Arslanian) was distraught … or actually just mostly annoyed.
“Why was the guy in the middle of the street? I didn’t do anything wrong, you know?” she told the police, who proceeded to give her the Deluxe White Glove White Lady treatment.
Here’s the dashboard camera footage:
The cops deferred to her as if they were the concierges at a fancy hotel and she’s a valued guest. Despite New Jersey’s implied consent laws, they didn’t give her a breathalyzer or sobriety. Maybe they didn’t believe she was under the influence, even though she said that Koop “darted across traffic and jumped onto her vehicle.” When she called 911 after hitting Koop, she’d insisted that “Some guy just jumped in front of my car.” She was really pushing the theory of attempted suicide by luxury vehicle.
The owner of the parked car Nadine hit recalls her repeatedly telling the cops she was going to “call someone.” Later, a retired police officer showed up and told the other cops, “I don’t even know her. That’s my buddy’s wife who’s friends with her. He said could you do me a favor and take her up there, because her friend just got in a car accident.”
Not only was Nadine allowed to leave the scene, police went to local bars to investigate Koop’s whereabouts before his death. See, this is why it’s your own fault if you get into fatal car accidents without having subscribed to the Deluxe White Glove White Lady treatment.
A man whose parked car Menendez hit after striking the victim told the Times that he didn’t know who she was at the time, but that it seemed like she was “someone important.” He added, “I don’t know if she was well known, or lived nearby, or the police knew her, but there appeared to be a lot of secrecy. I remember saying, ‘That woman is just allowed to leave? She’s not being arrested or anything?’” Menendez was reportedly released without a summons.
According to Politico, Nadine Menendez has a history of careless rich asshole driving. She’d pleaded guilty in Tenafly municipal court in 2021 to “using a handheld phone while driving and paying $240 in penalties and fees.” She was charged with the same offense in Englewood in 2016, but it was dismissed as part of a plea agreement. She pleaded guilty in 2012 to “failure to observe traffic control device,” which set her back $85, and in 2005, she was charged in Jersey City with the same offense. She also pleaded guilty to improper passing in East Rutherford Municipal court. That cost her $85 in fines and fees. Republicans want to charge homeless people more than this for the crime of aggravated public poverty.
An estimated 70,000 pedestrians are hit by vehicles annually in the US. One in three pedestrians hit by vehicles traveling 25 miles per hour are severely injured, but a person hit by a car traveling at 35 miles per hour is five times more likely to die than if they were hit by a car going just 20 miles an hour.
Of course, the ideal scenario is that the driver can react in time to avoid hitting the pedestrian at all. This obviously becomes harder if you’re driving at excessive speeds or are simply distracted.
A Bogota sergeant reportedly wrote in a police report the day after Koop was killed: “It is determined that at this time Ms. Arslanian was not at fault for the motor vehicle crash and that [the victim, Richard] Koop was jaywalking.”
However, according to New Jersey-based Rosenblum Law, drivers do have some legal responsibility to avoid jaywalkers.
In Leighton v. Sim, a driver struck a pedestrian who was crossing a road 200 feet from a crosswalk at night. Although the pedestrian was not using the crosswalk, the evidence showed that the driver should have been able to see the pedestrian from 150 feet away and stop well before hitting her. Accordingly, the Appellate Division of the Superior court ruled that the driver could be held liable.
However, Nadine wasn’t too worried about legal troubles as she entered 2019. Her biggest problem was replacing her hot ride. This was soon resolved to her satisfaction, after Menendez called a senior prosecutor at the New Jersey attorney general’s office in late January and asked him to go easy on a business associate of Jose Uribe, yet another person charged in the bribery scheme. (It’s a complex web of corruption.’
Nadine enthusiastically texted Hana: “All is GREAT! I’m so excited to get a car next week. !!”
Koop was still dead, and his family had endured the holidays without him. But, you know, some Christmas miracles are strictly automobile related.
In April, four months after Mr. Koop’s death, Ms. Menendez signed paperwork to purchase a new $60,000 Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible. She told Mr. Uribe by text that she would “never forget this” and messaged Mr. Menendez to celebrate too. “Congratulations mon amour de la vie,” Ms. Menendez wrote to Mr. Menendez, according to the indictment. “We are the proud owners of a 2019 Mercedes.”
Koop’s family never heard personally from neither Nadine nor Bob Menendez, their senator. Menendez and his people simply referred to Koop’s death as “an accident.”
“We always wondered what actually happened that horrible night. So much was left unanswered,” DeBouter told the Times. “I don’t know if we will ever know the truth.”
The New Jersey attorney general’s office has launched an inquiry into how the police handled the investigation into the collision that killed Koop. It seems fitting that the Menedezes’ callous greed might have inadvertently shined light on this horrible incident.
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