US Senator Menendez 'sold the power of his office' for gold bribes: Prosecutor

World
Tue, 9 Jul 2024 8:27 GMT
Federal prosecutor describes Menendez's actions as a ‘clear pattern of corruption'.
US Senator Menendez 'sold the power of his office' for gold bribes: Prosecutor

US Senator Bob Menendez "sold the power of his office" by accepting bribes of gold, cash and a Mercedes Benz to help New Jersey businessmen and to serve as a foreign agent of Egypt, a prosecutor told jurors Monday as the senator's trial neared its end.

"Robert Menendez, the senior US senator from the state of New Jersey, the ranking member and then-chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, put his power up for sale," Assistant US Attorney Paul Monteleoni said during a closing argument, according to ABC news.

Monteleoni described Menendez's actions as a "clear pattern of corruption.”

"It wasn't enough for him to be one of the most powerful people in Washington," Monteleoni said. "Robert Menendez wanted all that power and he also wanted to use it to pile up riches for himself and his wife."

During the trial, the jurors saw the gold bars that were seized by federal agents from Menendez's home in New Jersey in June 2022. Additionally, the FBI agents found more than $480,000 in cash, much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe, as well as over $70,000 in cash in his wife Nadine Arslanian Menendez's safe deposit box.

Menendez, 70, has pleaded not guilty to 16 criminal charges including bribery, fraud, acting as an unregistered foreign agent and obstruction of justice. Nadine Menendez will stand trial separately in August because of a breast cancer diagnosis.

The laundry list of charges stems from actions he allegedly took during the course of his official duties to illicitly benefit the Egyptian and Qatari governments as well as a trio of New Jersey businessmen -- Fred Daibes, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe -- in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in gold, cash, mortgage payments and a luxury vehicle.

Nadine Menendez and Daibes, Hana and Uribe have also pleaded not guilty.

The latest raft of charges marks the second time Menendez has faced a federal criminal indictment on corruption charges during his nearly two decades in the Senate. A prior trial resulted in a mistrial after a jury could not come to a verdict.

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