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Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife will have separate bribery trials, judge rules

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LA Post: Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife will have separate bribery trials, judge rules
April 11, 2024
PHILIP MARCELO - AP

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife will be tried separately on allegations that they participated in a bribery scheme, a federal judge ruled Thursday, agreeing to sever and delay Nadine Menedez’s trial after her lawyers argued that she requires treatment for a serious medical condition.

The New Jersey Democrat’s trial will remain scheduled for May 6 in Manhattan federal court, while Nadine Menedez's trial was tentatively pushed back to July.

“This trial is going forward without Mrs. Menendez,” said Judge Sidney H. Stein. “The government is going to have to try this case two times.”

Nadine Menendez’s lawyers argued for the move in a letter to Stein this week, saying she was recently diagnosed with an unspecified condition that will require surgery in the next four to six weeks. In court on Thursday, they said she needs more time for testing to understand the nature of the condition.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, contended that the entire trial should just be delayed, arguing that severing Nadine Menendez’s trial from her husband’s would result in “serious inefficiencies and unfairness” that would require dozens of witnesses to be recalled.

Stein on Thursday also denied motions to dismiss the indictment outright and transfer the case to New Jersey.

The Menendezes and two businessmen have pleaded not guilty to charges that they participated in a bribery scheme in which prosecutors say cash and gold bars were given to the couple in return for the senator carrying out political favors. Bob Menendez chaired the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee until he stepped down from the role in September because of the allegations.

A third businessman, Jose Uribe, has pleaded guilty to bribery charges and agreed to testify against the others at trial. Uribe said he conspired with Nadine Menendez and others to provide her with a Mercedes-Benz in return for access to her husband's power and influence.

Prosecutors allege that in return for the bribes, Menendez helped one of the businessmen get a lucrative meat-certification deal with Egypt. Menendez helped another associate get a deal with a Qatari investment fund, an indictment alleges.

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