Closing arguments set to begin at bribery trial of New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez


NEW YORK (AP) — Closing arguments are set to begin Monday at the bribery trial of New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.

The closings were scheduled to start in the afternoon as the trial enters its ninth week in Manhattan federal court. Prosecutors planned their initial closing to last about five hours so it was unlikely they would get more than half through it before the jury is sent home for the day.

Prosecutors are expected to tie together the evidence they’ve presented against the Democrat to support their claim that gold bars, over $480,000 in cash and a luxury car found during a 2022 FBI raid on Menendez’s residence are the proceeds of bribes paid by three New Jersey businessmen.

In addition to testimony from several dozen witnesses, prosecutors introduced hundreds of documents, emails, text messages, phone records and other factual evidence.

In return for bribes, prosecutors say, the senator took actions from 2018 to 2022 to protect or enhance the business interests of the businessmen. They say some of the crimes occurred while Menendez held the powerful post of chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Menendez, 70, and two of the businessmen have pleaded not guilty and are on trial together. A third businessman pleaded guilty in the case and testified against the others during the federal trial, the second the senator has faced in the last decade. None of the defendants testified.

An earlier trial against Menendez in New Jersey ended in 2017 with a deadlocked jury.

Nadine Menendez, 57, the senator’s wife, is also charged in the case, but her trial has been postponed while she recovers from breast cancer surgery. She also has pleaded not guilty.

As part of his defense, Menendez’s lawyers have argued that the gold bars belonged to his wife and that tens of thousands of dollars in cash found in Bob Menendez’s boots and jackets resulted from his habit of storing cash at home after hearing from his family how they escaped Cuba in 1951 with only the cash they had hidden in their home.

His lawyers have also asserted that Nadine Menendez, who began dating the senator in 2018 and married him two years later, kept him in the dark about her financial troubles and assistance she requested from the businessmen.

Menendez was born in Manhattan after the family moved to New York City, though he was raised in the New Jersey cities of Hoboken and Union City, according to testimony by his sister.

Menendez has held public office continuously since 1986, serving as a state legislator before serving 14 years as a U.S. congressman. In 2006, then-Gov. Jon Corzine appointed Menendez to the Senate seat he vacated when he became governor.

Several weeks ago, Menendez filed to run for reelection this year as an independent.



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