Crime

Prosecutors say Menendez put power up for sale during closing arguments

Federal prosecutors on Monday told jurors that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) sold out his office and constituents to the highest bidder, during closing arguments in the sweeping bribery and corruption trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni said three times the power the sitting senator held was “never enough,” a reference to when Menendez proposed to his […]

Federal prosecutors on Monday told jurors that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) sold out his office and constituents to the highest bidder, during closing arguments in the sweeping bribery and corruption trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni said three times the power the sitting senator held was “never enough,” a reference to when Menendez proposed to his wife, Nadine, outside the Taj Mahal in India. The senator did it while singing the song “Never Enough” from the movie The Greatest Showman

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) leaves federal court following the day’s proceedings in his bribery trial, Wednesday, July 3, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Larry Neumeister)

“It wasn’t enough for him to be one of the most powerful people in Washington,” Monteleoni said. 


Menendez is accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, a convertible, furniture, 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.

Menendez has been on trial for the past eight weeks.

His co-defendants are Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer charged with bribing Menendez and his wife, Nadine, with gold bars and cash; and Wael Hana, a New Jersey man who owns a halal meat certification company. 

Wael Hana leaves the federal courthouse in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Monteleoni began his arguments, which are expected to stretch into Tuesday, using a “PowerPoint-style” presentation as he tried to connect the dots to what he alleged was a “clear pattern of corruption,” the New York Times reported

Prosecutors broke down the charges with check marks that showed which of the three defendants were accused of the 18 counts in the 66-page indictment.  

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Most of the blame was put on Menendez.

At its core, “Menendez was in charge,” Monteleoni said. “His wife Nadine was his go-between.”

Nadine Menendez was supposed to be on trial alongside her husband, but her trial has been delayed as she recovers from breast cancer.  

Menendez’s daughter, MSNBC host Alicia Menendez, was in the courtroom.

Monteleoni also took aim Tuesday afternoon at one of the key pillars of Menendez’s defense, which has been to blame his wife. Menendez’s lawyers have painted the senator as a lovesick man, too blinded by his femme fatale of a wife to know any better. Menendez’s lawyers have argued she was the mastermind, pulling the strings in the yearslong scheme.

Monteleoni pushed back on the narrative, claiming there was evidence that shows Menendez had direct knowledge of the money coming in and why. 

“You don’t get to be the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by being clueless,” he said.

Despite thousands of exhibits entered into evidence as well as dozens of witnesses who took the stand, no one admitted to actually seeing Menendez take money or gifts as bribes. Instead, many testified that Nadine Menendez had brokered all the deals. Prosecutors countered that Menendez would have had to be blind and deaf not to know. 

Monteleoni also summarized peculiar actions Menendez took to benefit Egypt, moves he made frequently without informing his staff. In return, he got gold bars, cash payments, and a “no-show job” for his wife. 

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Prosecutors told the judge that their closing arguments could take up to five hours. Closing statements by lawyers for Menendez, Daibes, and Hana will follow. Prosecutors will then have a chance to offer a rebuttal before the case goes to the jury. 

If Menendez is found guilty of all the charges against him, he could face up to 20 years in prison. 

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