The New Jersey attorney general’s office seized records on Thursday from Bergen County law enforcement agencies to review whether the investigation of a fatal 2018 car crash involving the soon-to-be wife of Senator Robert Menendez was handled properly, two officials said.
Nadine Menendez, who was dating Mr. Menendez at the time of the crash, was released by the police without a summons or a sobriety test after she struck and killed Richard Koop, 49, while driving at night along a wide, two-lane boulevard in Bogota, N.J., police records show.
After a brief investigation, the police determined that Ms. Menendez, 56, was “not at fault” and that Mr. Koop, who had marijuana and alcohol in his system, had been jaywalking as he walked across the street toward his apartment. Ms. Menendez told officers that Mr. Koop “jumped on my windshield”; no charges were filed.
The attorney general’s office began its inquiry a day after details of the collision were reported publicly for the first time by The New York Times and The Record of New Jersey, nearly five years after it happened. A review by The Times of police reports, dashcam footage, 911 call recordings and a video of the collision raises new questions about the rigor of an investigation that Mr. Koop’s relatives have long believed was inadequate.
The renewed scrutiny could create fresh legal and political peril for Mr. Menendez, a Democrat, and his wife, who were indicted last month alongside three New Jersey businessmen in a brazen bribery scheme. They have each pleaded not guilty, including to an allegation that the couple received as a bribe a new Mercedes-Benz convertible to replace Ms. Menendez’s car, which was damaged in the crash.
The attorney general’s public integrity unit will review all records generated by the Bogota Police Department and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office to determine if the investigation into the fatal crash was handled appropriately, according to the two officials, who did not want to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the investigation, first reported by