Sen. Bob Menendez’s criminal trial will continue as scheduled on May 6 — but without the New Jersey Democrat’s wife and co-defendant Nadine Menendez.

At a hearing Thursday in federal court in New York, U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein ordered Nadine Menendez’s case to be severed from her husband’s due to a health issue she is experiencing.

“This trial is going forward without Mrs. Menendez,” the judge said.

The illness, which was not disclosed in court, has led to a lack of clarity about when she will be healthy enough to proceed to trial, the judge said, so he tentatively postponed her trial until July 8. Her attorneys have said the condition requires surgery and “possibly significant recovery” time.

Image: New Jersey Senator Menendez Makes First Court Appearance For Federal Bribery Charges
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and his wife, Nadine, arrive for a court appearance at Manhattan federal court on Sept. 27.Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images file

Nadine Menendez had requested the postponement earlier this week, and prosecutors said they were fine delaying the trial until the summer. They had asked that the judge not sever the case, noting that many of the charges against her and her husband overlap and it would result in them having to essentially argue the same case twice.

Although the senator had previously asked that the trial be postponed, his attorney said in court Thursday he wanted to proceed to trial as quickly as possible and asked the judge to keep the May trial date. “We don’t need it and we don’t want it,” the lawyer, Adam Fee, said about the possibility of adjourning the trial.

Both Menendezes had previously asked that their cases be severed from each other.

Lawyers for the senator said in a motion to sever that he “intends to present a defense arguing (in part) that he lacked the requisite knowledge of much of the conduct and statements of his wife, Nadine.”

“By this defense, Senator Menendez’s legal team may have to argue, in effect, that any unlawful conduct — and we are aware of none —involved the actions of others (including Nadine), not the Senator,” his lawyers wrote.

Lawyers for Nadine Menendez argued in a separate motion that a joint trial would “undoubtedly prejudice Ms. Menendez’s right to defend herself.” They said it would be “unfair to require either spouse to sacrifice the right to testify fully in one’s own defense or the ability to maintain the confidentiality of privileged marital communications.”

In addition to health concerns, Stein said, Nadine Menendez needs new attorneys because her current lawyers could end up being called as witnesses related to an obstruction count against her. Prosecutors said that her lawyers misrepresented money she got from another co-defendant for her Mercedes as a loan.

She has 30 days to find new lawyers.

The charges Menendez and his wife are facing include conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.

Prosecutors said the couple received “cash, gold bars, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle and other items of value.” Two New Jersey businessmen have also been charged as part of the alleged scheme. All four have pleaded not guilty.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *