Opening statements begin in US senator's trial as prosecutors allege corruption

Sen. Bob Menendez ‘was powerful. He was also corrupt,' says federal prosecutor

Michael Hernandez  | 16.05.2024 - Update : 16.05.2024
Opening statements begin in US senator's trial as prosecutors allege corruption


Opening statements in US Sen. Bob Menendez's federal corruption trial began Wednesday as prosecutors alleged the longtime lawmaker "put his power up for sale" and betrayed his constituents.

"He was powerful. He was also corrupt," prosecutor Lara Pomerantz said of Menendez in a Manhattan federal court, according to ABC News. "In the United States of America, leaders are expected to put their country first, to put the interests of the people they serve above their own. This case is about a public official who put greed first."

Menendez has been charged with 16 federal crimes, including bribery, fraud, acting as an unregistered foreign agent and obstruction of justice.

The laundry list of charges stem 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 in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in gold, cash, mortgage payments and a luxury vehicle.

The senator has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Menendez's lawyers denied that their client engaged in any illegal activity, maintaining he is an "American patriot" who "took no bribes," according to ABC News.

Nadine Arslanian, Menendez's wife, and businessmen Fred Daibes, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe, have also pleaded not guilty.

Investigators found more than $486,000 in cash when they searched Menendez's home in 2022, "much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe," in addition to gold bars, according to the indictment that was unsealed last month.

Two of the one-kilogram bars and nine one-ounce gold bars that were recovered bore serial numbers indicating they were once owned by Daibes, according to prosecutors.

The latest raft of charges mark the second time Menendez has faced a federal criminal indictment on corruption charges during the course of 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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