According to federal investigators, Meng never intended to use the money to help the defendant, but instead planned to keep it himself.
He was arrested yesterday morning when the defendant, who was cooperating with investigators and wore a wire when Meng solicited the money, dropped off the money at a Flushing lumberyard owned by Meng.
As per Meng’s instructions, the money was stuffed in the bottom of a fruit basket.
Meng told the defendant in January that he would use the money to bribe prosecutors, giving four of them $20,000 each. Once Meng made his offer, the defendant went to federal prosecutors.
A spokesperson for the Manhattan District attorney’s Office said no prosecutors were ever contacted by Meng.
“As alleged in the complaint, Jimmy Meng sought to be a power broker in the halls of justice, but the influence he sought to peddle was corrupt, and his power was illusory,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Loretta Lynch.
Meng was released on $1 million bail, surrendered his passport, and a judge limited his travel to the five boroughs and Long Island. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Meng is the father of Grace Meng, who until recently held her father’s old Assembly seat before she decided to run for Congress.
In June, Grace Meng won a four-way primary to become the Democrat’s candidate on the ballot in November. She will face Councilman Dan Halloran, a Republican.
In a statement, Meng said she was unaware of the father’s dealings.
"I am shocked and deeply saddened by these allegations,” she said. “Prior to this afternoon’s reports, I had no knowledge of my father’s actions or the investigation.”
Sensing the damage it could do to her bid for Congress, Meng distanced herself from her father.
“I am independent of my father – always have been, always will be,” she said. “Until more facts emerge and we have a better understanding of the situation, the only thing further I’ll say is that I urge my father to fully cooperate with all authorities."