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Gold bars, internet searches highlighted in Bob Menendez trial

More than⁤ a dozen witnesses have testified in the​ corruption trial of Senator Bob⁢ Menendez (D-NJ), detailing ⁣various eccentricities ‌and alleged misconduct as the sixth week of testimony concluded. ​Witnesses described Menendez’s unusual behaviors, such as hoarding gold bars and​ emulating gangster movie scenes on his patio. Prosecutors argue that ⁣Menendez engaged in a bribery scheme, accepting 13 gold bars, a luxury car, and‌ substantial cash​ sums from three New Jersey businessmen in return for political favors benefiting his co-defendants, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, both of whom, ⁣along with Menendez, have pleaded⁣ not guilty. The ‌trial faced brief interruptions due to⁤ a COVID-19 ⁤case ⁤and the ‍Juneteenth holiday. Menendez’s wife’s trial‍ is postponed due​ to a ‍medical‍ emergency. Crucial​ evidence presented⁢ by‌ prosecutors included Menendez’s internet searches related to the value of gold, linked to the significant amount found in his home during an FBI raid. The court saw Menendez’s extensive online inquiries into gold prices ‍during several instances spanning ⁣from April 2019 to March⁢ 2022.


More than a dozen witnesses have taken the stand in Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) corruption trial as the sixth week of testimony wrapped up Friday.

So far, they’ve told New York jurors about how the Cuban-born lawmaker hoarded gold bars, played out scenes from gangster movies while holding court on his patio, as well as his penchant for little silver bells.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) leaves federal court following the day’s proceedings in his bribery trial Thursday, June 20, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Larry Neumeister)

Prosecutors have painted the one-time powerful Democratic senator as a savvy participant in a widespread scheme where he traded his power and influence to the highest bidder.

This week was an abbreviated one. The court was out Monday after a defendant tested positive for COVID-19 and again Wednesday for Juneteenth.

Menendez has been accused of accepting bribes from three New Jersey businessmen in the form of 13 gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, and $500,000 in cash. In exchange, federal prosecutors allege Menendez greased the wheels in deals that benefited codefendants Wael Hana and Fred Daibes. Menendez, Daibes, and Hana are all on trial together. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez, has been charged, but her trial has been pushed back to August due to a medical emergency.

Prosecutors Thursday showed jurors multiple instances where Menendez researched the value of gold.

The evidence was crucial for prosecutors as they tried to trace the history of his text messages with Daibes and his internet searches for the price of gold.

The gold bars found in Menendez’s home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, during an FBI raid, were worth more than $100,000. FBI agent Paul Van Wie described internet searches Menendez conducted when he researched the price of gold in April 2019, twice in May 2021, in October 2021, twice in December 2021, once in January 2022, and again in March and May of 2022, the Associated Press reported.

Wie also testified that a search of Menendez’s internet history since 2008 showed he had never searched for the price of gold until April 5, 2019, when Daibes allegedly bribed him.

Menendez allegedly used his power to help Daibes secure a $95 million investment from a Qatari investment fund by taking actions as his role as a senator that were favorable to Qatar’s government.

Earlier in the week, Philip Sellinger, a New Jersey attorney, wrapped up his testimony which began last week. He told jurors that Menendez tried to discuss a separate case involving Daibes before recommending him to the post after President Joe Biden won the election in 2020.

Sellinger is the second law enforcement official who has testified Menendez tried to speak to him about a criminal case affecting Daibes.

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On Tuesday, Michael Soliman, one of Menendez’s former top aides, testified that the senator asked him to look into a criminal fraud case against Daibes.

The prosecution is likely to wrap up its case next week. It is unknown whether Menendez will take the stand.




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