Defense Asks Menendez Jury for Acquittal on All Charges

Both sides make closing arguments in bribery trial
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 9, 2024 5:30 PM CDT
Defense Asks Menendez Jury for Acquittal on All Charges
Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez arrives at federal court on Tuesday in New York.   (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

A lawyer for Sen. Bob Menendez on Tuesday urged jurors to acquit him of every charge at the Democrat's New York City corruption trial, saying federal prosecutors had failed to prove a single count beyond a reasonable doubt. The attorney, Adam Fee, told the Manhattan federal court jury that there were too many gaps in evidence that prosecutors wanted jurors to fill in to conclude crimes were committed, the AP reports. And he defended over $100,000 in gold bars and more than $480,000 in cash found in an Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, home during a 2022 FBI raid, though he acknowledged of the valuables: "It's provocative. It's atypical."

"Prosecutors have not come close to meeting their burden to show you that any of the gold or cash was given to Senator Menendez as a bribe," Fee said. "This is a case with a lot of inferences," he said, suggesting there were large gaps in the evidence. Earlier Tuesday, Assistant US Attorney Paul Monteleoni said in a closing statement that began Monday that the senator had engaged in "wildly abnormal" behavior in response to bribes, including trying to interfere in criminal cases handled by the top state and federal prosecutors in New Jersey. Menendez, 70, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he accepted bribes including gold and envelopes of cash from 2018 to 2022 from three New Jersey men who wanted his help in their business ventures.

Menendez is on trial with two of the businessmen—Wael Hana and Fred Daibes. Hana, who prosecutors say enlisted Menendez to help him gain and protect a monopoly on the certification of meat exported from the US to Egypt, and Daibes, an influential real estate developer, have also both pleaded not guilty. A third businessman pleaded guilty and testified at the trial. Menendez's wife, Nadine, also is charged in the case, but her trial has been postponed while she recovers from breast cancer surgery. (Menendez has filed for reelection.)

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