LP_468x60
ontario news watch
on-the-record-468x60-white
and-another-thing-468x60
United States

Jury selection to begin in the corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez

NEW YORK (AP) — Jury selection was scheduled to start Monday in the trial of Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat charged with accepting bribes of gold and cash to use his influence to deliver favors that would aid three New Jersey businessmen.

Menendez, 70, will stand trial in Manhattan federal court along with two of the businessmen — real estate developer Fred Daibes and Wael Hana. All three have pleaded not guilty. A third businessman has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the other defendants. The senator’s wife is also charged, but her trial is delayed until at least July.

Opening statements were possible, but unlikely, before Tuesday for a trial that has already sent the senator’s political stature tumbling. After charges were announced in September, he was forced out of his powerful post as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The three-term senator has announced he will not be seeking reelection on the Democratic ticket this fall, although he has not ruled out running as an independent.

It will be the second corruption trial for Menendez this decade. The previous prosecution on unrelated charges ended with a deadlocked jury in 2017.

In the new case, prosecutors say the senator’s efforts on behalf of the businessmen led him to take actions benefitting the governments of Egypt and Qatar. Menendez has vigorously denied doing anything unusual in his dealings with foreign officials.

Besides charges including bribery, extortion, fraud and obstruction of justice, Menendez also is charged with acting as a foreign agent of Egypt.

Among evidence his lawyers will have to explain are gold bars worth over $100,000 and more than $486,000 in cash found in a raid two years ago on his New Jersey home, including money stuffed in the pockets of clothing in closets.

The Democrat’s wife, Nadine Menendez, was also charged in the case, but her trial has been postponed for health reasons. She is still expected to be a major figure. Prosecutors say that Nadine Menendez often served as a conduit between the men paying the bribes and Menendez.

The senator’s lawyers in court papers have said they plan to explain that Menendez had no knowledge of some of what occurred because she kept him in the dark.

According to an indictment, Daibes delivered gold bars and cash to Menendez and his wife to get the senator’s help with a multimillion-dollar deal with a Qatari investment fund, prompting Menendez to act in ways favorable to Qatar’s government.

The indictment also said Menendez did things benefitting Egyptian officials in exchange for bribes from Hana as the businessman secured a valuable deal with the Egyptian government to certify that imported meat met Islamic dietary requirements.

In pleading guilty several weeks ago, businessman Jose Uribe admitted buying Menendez’s wife a Mercedes-Benz to get the senator’s help to influence criminal investigations involving his business associates.

Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *