Federal prosecutors opposed New Jersey Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez and his co-defendants’ request for a two-month delay to their bribery trial, set for May, urging a U.S. judge to reject their plea on Tuesday.
‘The current schedule set by the court is expedited, but reasonable,’ Damian Wiliams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote to U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein. ‘Nothing in the defendant’s request for an adjournment, made more than two months after the schedule was set, justifies a material deviation from this considered schedule.’
Last week, Menendez’s defense lawyers argued they didn’t have enough time to sift through some 6.7 million documents in time for a May trial date and cited the ‘complexity of this case.’ But prosecutors asserted they had completed ‘good-faith efforts to facilitate the defense’s efficient review.’
‘The government has taken great pains to organize the discovery and to assist counsel’s review of it,’ the prosecutors’ filing read.
‘Other assertions regarding the amount of time they allegedly need – such as their desire to take unspecified investigative steps, their plan to file a challenge to the sufficiency of the indictment, their desire to mount a constitutional challenge to a federal criminal statute, and their plan to file suppression motions – are not unique to this case and do not justify a multiple-month adjournment,’ it continued.
Menendez, along with his wife Nadine and three New Jersey businessmen – Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes – were first charged in the federal bribery scheme on Sept. 23.
FBI and IRS criminal investigators allege that Menendez and his wife accepted several gold bars and other gifts from Daibes, a New Jersey developer and former bank chairman accused of banking crimes. Menendez allegedly worked to help appoint a prosecutor who would be sympathetic to Daibes, according to the indictment.
The unsealed indictment alleges that from at least 2018 through 2022, Menendez and his wife ‘engaged in a corrupt relationship’ with Daibes, Hana and Uribe.
The couple is accused of accepting ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for using Menendez’s power and influence as a senator to seek to protect and enrich Hana, Uribe, and Daibes and to benefit the Arab Republic of Egypt.’
The alleged bribes included cash, gold bars, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low- or no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and ‘other things of value.’ After the investigation was underway, Menendez reportedly disclosed that his family had accepted gold bars in 2020.
According to prosecutors, Menendez allegedly shared confidential U.S. government information with Hana, an Egyptian American businessman, to clandestinely support the Egyptian government. The indictment contends that Menendez exerted inappropriate pressure on a Department of Agriculture official to safeguard Hana’s business monopoly granted by Egypt. In return, Hana purportedly funneled profits from his monopoly back to Menendez.
Menendez faces additional charges of acting as a foreign agent and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes to benefit the Egyptian government through his ‘power and influence as a Senator,’ according to the superseding indictment filed by a grand jury in Manhattan in October.