Senator Bob Menendez’s now-wife, Nadine Arslanian, was involved in a car accident that killed a pedestrian, shedding new light on circumstances surrounding why the woman allegedly relied on bribery to help buy a new Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible worth more than $60,000.
The incident occurred in December 2018, when Arslanian struck and killed Richard Koop, 49, in front of his home at 155 East Main Street, in Bogota, New Jersey.
Bogota police responded to calls of a pedestrian hit by a car just after 7:35 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2018. The crash, which occurred left Koop fatally injured
The dash-cam footage and police records, recently obtained by news outlets and The Washington Post, reveal details of the incident that had gone unreported at the time. Arslanian, who was dating Senator Menendez at the time, was driving when the vehicle struck Koop, was fatally struck and left to bleed on the street.
Bogota Patrolman Michael LaFerrera wrote in a police report that when he arrived at the scene, he saw Koop “laying in the westbound lane of travel.”
Koop “appeared to have severe head trauma, bleeding from the back of his head, bleeding from the face, and possible fractured legs and arms.”
LaFerrera wrote that Koop was “unconscious and did not appear to be breathing”; he couldn’t find a pulse and was “unable to attempt CPR as there was no way to properly control Mr. Koop’s bleeding from his face and head, rendering CPR useless.”
Koop was taken to Holy Name Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 8:18 p.m.
Arslanian told police that Koop had “jumped on my windshield,” and she was subsequently released without a summons, with authorities determining that she was “not at fault.”
Koop’s obituary described him as an “avid outdoorsman, sportsman, and music fan with a great sense of humor.” The incident seemed like a tragic accident until recent developments cast it in a new light.
Prosecutors allege that Menendez and his wife accepted bribes to misuse his official position for the benefit of individuals in New Jersey and Egypt.
One of the alleged bribes, which was described in the indictment against the couple, benefited Arslanian in the form of a Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible.
While the indictment refers elliptically to a “car accident” in late 2018, the local police records confirm that the incident took place in Bogota, New Jersey, and left Arslanian’s Mercedes-Benz unrecoverable while resulting in Koop’s death.
The police report stated that Koop was “jaywalking” and did not cross the street at an intersection or in a marked crosswalk.
An attorney for Nadine Arslanian declined to comment, and Senator Menendez’s office referred to his statement expressing condolences to the victim’s family.
Surveillance footage from a nearby business showed that Arslanian did not immediately exit her vehicle after striking Koop but instead backed up, paused, and then proceeded down the street. In a 911 call obtained by The Washington Post, she told a dispatcher that “some guy just jumped in front of my car on my windshield.” She appeared shaken and disoriented.
The responding officers conducted no sobriety tests at the scene, and the dash-cam footage did not include questioning about possible impairment. Arslanian indicated that she did not want to be questioned without an attorney present.
The tragic accident went unreported to Koop’s family at the time. Koop’s ex-wife, Danielle DeBouter, revealed that neither the senator nor his then-girlfriend reached out to them regarding the incident. Koop was described as a devoted father, and his loss deeply affected his family.
The recent indictment alleges that Arslanian sent text messages to a friend and co-defendant in the case, Wael Hana, about her lack of a car, which led to Menendez’s alleged involvement in efforts to disrupt criminal proceedings related to individuals associated with Hana. In exchange, Arslanian received a new car, according to prosecutors.
The indictment outlines a series of events, including phone calls and text messages, suggesting that Menendez and Arslanian were involved in a scheme to obstruct ongoing criminal proceedings. The indictment also mentions the exchange of significant amounts of cash.
These revelations have raised new questions about the circumstances surrounding the fatal car accident, and the bribery charges against Senator Menendez and his wife continue to generate significant public and legal interest.