Prosecutor to jury: Sen. Menendez put power ‘up for sale’

By Larry Neumeister | Associated Press

NEW YORK — A prosecutor accused Sen. Bob Menendez in a closing argument at his bribery trial Monday of putting his power up for sale to benefit three New Jersey businessmen who bribed him with gold, cash and a luxury car.

The presentation by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni that will continue on Tuesday prompted the Democrat to scoff as he left the courthouse, saying: “The government is intoxicated with their own rhetoric.”

Minutes earlier, Monteleoni urged the Manhattan federal court jury to follow a trail of hundreds of emails and text messages between the businessmen and Menendez and his wife to see the link between the businessmen and the bribe proceeds found in an FBI raid on the Menendez residence in June 2022.

He said they’ll also be able to match fingerprint evidence linking the businessmen and Menendez to the bribes, including fingerprints on the tape that bound thousands of dollars in cash hidden in coat pockets, boots and boxes found at the Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, home owned by his wife, Nadine Menendez.

Monteleoni said the senator “put his power up for sale.”

The prosecutor said it wasn’t enough that the senator was one of the most powerful people in Washington as the ranking member and later the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he could block or approve hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to nations such as Egypt.

“He also wanted to use it to pile up riches for himself and his wife,” Monteleoni said.

Monteleoni’s closing as the trial enters its ninth week in Manhattan federal court was about half finished when court concluded for the day.

As he left the courthouse, Menendez mocked the prosecutor’s closing, saying the government had “spent two hours on charts, not witnesses that came before the jury.”

He added that Monteleoni had spent “two hours telling jurors about what they believe conversations should be that they never heard.”

Monteleoni cited a “clear pattern of corruption” and told jurors to closely review communications between the Menendez couple and the businessmen to see evidence of bribes along with proof that they were trying to cover up their schemes.

Prosecutors say gold bars, over $480,000 in cash and a Mercedes-Benz discovered during the FBI raid are the proceeds of bribes paid to get Menendez to help the men in their business dealings.

Monteleoni said defense claims that gold in the house had mostly been inherited by Nadine Menendez was belied by serial numbers on gold bars that showed they had come from the businessmen who paid bribes.

“All this talk about Nadine having family gold is a distraction,” he said.

In return for bribes, prosecutors say, the senator took actions from 2018 to 2022 to protect or enhance the business interests of the businessmen — including protecting Wael Hana’s monopoly over the certification of meat exported to Egypt from the U.S. to ensure it conformed to Islamic dietary requirements.

Besides charges of bribery, extortion, fraud and obstruction of justice, Menendez has also been charged with acting as a …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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