Crime

Closing arguments in Menendez case slated for Monday

Closing arguments in the bribery and corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) could begin as early as Monday afternoon as the eight-week trial enters the home stretch.  Menendez is accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, a convertible, and 13 gold bars in exchange for steering aid to Egypt, facilitating a halal meat monopoly, […]

Closing arguments in the bribery and corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) could begin as early as Monday afternoon as the eight-week trial enters the home stretch. 

Menendez is accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, a convertible, and 13 gold bars in exchange for steering aid to Egypt, facilitating a halal meat monopoly, and disrupting criminal investigations on behalf of his friends and family.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) leaves federal court following the day’s proceedings in his bribery trial, Thursday, June 20, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Larry Neumeister)

Prosecutors have painted the longtime lawmaker as a greedy politician straight out of a mafia movie.


They claim he held court in his New Jersey home, rang a tiny silver bell to summon his wife, and puffed on cigars while entertaining bids.

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The government introduced thousands of pieces of evidence including texts and voicemail messages that were played in court. They also called more than a dozen witnesses to the stand, including former New Jersey attorney general Gurbir Grewal, and Philip Sellinger, the state’s top federal prosecutor. 

Menendez, 70, and his wife, Nadine, were both charged in the yearslong scheme.

She was supposed to go on trial with her husband, but her court date has been pushed back to at least August as she recovers from breast cancer.

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Menendez is on trial with two of the New Jersey businessmen accused of bribing him, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, after a third, Jose Uribe, pleaded guilty and cut a deal with the government. 

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On Wednesday, Menendez told reporters that he would not take the stand as he was leaving the Manhattan federal courthouse.

He claimed prosecutors failed to prove “every aspect” of the sprawling case against him. He added that to “give them another chance” by taking the witness stand was “simply not something that makes any sense to me whatsoever.”

“I expect my lawyers will produce a powerful and convincing summation, deduce how the evidence came out, and where they failed across the board, and how the jury will render a verdict of not guilty,” Menendez said.

Lawyers for Menendez called five people to the stand to rebut more than two dozen witnesses and hundreds of exhibits offered by prosecutors. Defense witnesses included Menendez’s sister-in-law and his sister, Caridad Gonzalez, 80. 

This image provided by the U.S. Attorney’s office, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, in New York, shows two of the gold bars found during a search by federal agents of Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) home and safe deposit box. (U.S. Attorney’s Office via AP)

Gonzales told jurors that stashing cash in a person’s home was a “Cuban thing” in an attempt to explain why federal agents found $480,000 in cash during a raid at the senator’s home last year. She said her family had been forced to leave everything behind when they fled Cuba and that the only money they had was what her father hid in an old grandfather clock. 

Menendez, who was not born in Cuba, allegedly had the practice of keeping cash on hand drilled into him by his parents who stashed money in door frames and in closets. 

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Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer charged with bribing Menendez and his wife with gold bars and cash,  rested his case without calling any witnesses. Hana, who runs a halal meat certification company, called one witness on Wednesday and may call another Monday morning. 

Following that, final summations are expected. Prosecutors will go first, followed by lawyers for Menendez, Daibes, and Hana. The government will get a rebuttal. 

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Prosecutors alleged that the bribery scheme began in February 2018, less than a month after the three-term Democrat was cleared in an unrelated corruption case in New Jersey.

That case ended in a mistrial after jurors were unable to agree on a verdict. 

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