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Judge Denies Sen. Bob Menendez’s request to delay bribery trial

By Jake Beardslee · December 29, 2023

In brief…

  • The judge rejected Senator Menendez's request to delay his bribery trial, which is still set for May 5.
  • Menendez pleaded not guilty along with his wife and three businessmen to bribery charges involving cash, gold, and a car.
  • Prosecutors warned defense of extensive evidence but Menendez's lawyers asked for more time to review documents.
  • The judge sided with prosecutors in keeping the original May trial date.
  • Menendez gave up a committee chairmanship but has resisted calls to resign from the Senate.
Senator Bob Menendez's request to postpone his May bribery trial was denied by the judge overseeing the case.  Senator Bob Menendez/Wikimedia

A federal judge has denied New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez’s request to delay the start of his bribery trial by two months. The trial is still set to begin with jury selection on May 5 in New York.

Menendez and his wife face charges along with three New Jersey businessmen, all of whom have pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors allege the defendants engaged in a bribery scheme that provided Menendez and his wife with cash, gold bars, and a luxury car in exchange for political favors. Menendez also pleaded not guilty to conspiring to illegally act as an agent of the Egyptian government.

Defense lawyers asked for the trial delay earlier this month, arguing they needed more time to review the over 6.7 million documents provided by prosecutors, The Associated Press reported. They said the case’s complexity required resolving legal questions that could take extra time.

But the federal judge overseeing the case, Sidney H. Stein, sided with prosecutors who opposed any delay. Prosecutors said they had warned defense lawyers last fall that the evidence would be extensive. Judge Stein agreed the material was in line with projections.

Menendez gave up his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after his arrest in September. But he has resisted calls to resign his Senate seat outright.

The senator’s lawyers declined to comment on the judge’s order keeping the original trial date. Menendez continues to assert his innocence.

The bribery and corruption charges carry lengthy potential prison sentences if Menendez is convicted. But his lawyers are expected to mount a vigorous defense for the prominent Democrat. Legal observers say the case could hinge on whether prosecutors can clearly demonstrate a corrupt bargain was made between the suspects.