Menendez Lawyers: That Cash, Gold Was a Trauma Response

Specifically, a habit developed from 2 traumas the senator experienced
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2024 12:30 AM CDT
Menendez Lawyers: That Cash, Gold Was a Trauma Response
Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife Nadine Menendez arrive at the federal courthouse in New York, Sept. 27, 2023.   (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon, File)

With 10 days to go until the start of Sen. Bob Menendez's bribery trial, both sides are tussling over whether a psychologist should be allowed to testify—with Menendez's attorneys arguing such an expert could explain the mass of cash and gold found in a June 2022 raid on his New Jersey home. In a letter revealed Wednesday, they say the $480,000 and 13 gold bars weren't bribes he accepted but rather the result of a hoarding habit born from two traumas he experienced, reports the Hill. More:

  • The Cuba angle: His lawyers say the psychologist will "testify that Senator Menendez suffered intergenerational trauma stemming from his family's experience as refugees, who had their funds confiscated by the Cuban government and were left with only a small amount of cash that they had stashed away in their home."
  • The trauma angle: They also say the hoarding was a "coping mechanism" he developed due to the trauma he experienced "when his father, a compulsive gambler, died by suicide after Senator Menendez eventually decided to discontinue paying off his father's gambling debts."
  • The result: The letter said Menendez developed a mental condition—its name was redacted—as a result but never received treatment for it.

  • What Menendez has said: CBS News reports Menendez has made this claim about his "old-fashioned habit" before, citing Cuba and saying that for the past three decades he has taken thousands of dollars in cash out of his savings on a monthly basis in case of emergencies.
  • Prosecutors push back: In a Wednesday filing that included the defense's letter, they said the proposed testimony is a move designed to "engender sympathy based on his family background, in the guise of expert testimony," and one that would bias the jury. They argued the psychiatrist's assessment "does not appear to be the product of any reliable scientific principle or method."
(More Bob Menendez stories.)

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