Senator Menendez Concerned
Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee POOL via AFP / BONNIE CASH/BONNIE CASH

The defense of embattled Senator Bob Menendez said the prosecution in his bribery trial failed to prove a single charge beyond reasonable doubt as closing arguments get close to their end and the jury gets ready to deliberate, CBS News reported.

Concretely, attorney Adam Fee said that there were many gaps in evidence presented, and that they filled them with their own conclusions to convince the jury. "There's zero evidence of him saying or suggesting that he was doing something for a bribe," Fee said during a passage of his allocution.

And while he did acknowledge that the cash and gold found in the senator's house amounted to large sums (over $100,000 in gold and almost half a million dollars in cash), he reiterated that the prosecution "has not come close to meeting their burden to show you that any" of it "was given to Senator Menendez as a bribe."

The prosecution, predictably, differs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni urged the jury to convict the lawmaker, saying he put his political power "up for sale" as he received bribes from different businessmen in exchange for advancing their interests.

The prosecutor outlined a "clear pattern of corruption" and detailing how both Menendez and his wife, Nadine, took cash, gold and a luxury car in exchange for his political influence.

Regarding the gold and cash found in his house, they said that the former's serial numbers showed they had been previously owned by Fred Daibes, one of the New Jersey businessmen charged with bribing Menendez. Over ten envelopes of cash with thousands of dollars also had his fingerprints.

The defense, in turn, gave different arguments to justify the proceedings of the assets. Regarding the gold bars, it said they were inherited by Nadine Menendez, part of a broader strategy aimed at pinning the actions on her and saying she kept him in the dark about gifts accepted while going through financial trouble.

As for the cash, the senator's older sister, Caridad González, echoed the defense's arguments by saying that keeping cash was a "Cuban thing" resulting from escaping the island in 1951. She said she also found a stash of cash in her brother's house in the 1980s.

However, the prosecution leaned on the analysis of a forensic accountant to dispute the claim, showing that Menendez withdrew about $400 in cash every few weeks between 2008 and 2022, a figure amounting to about $150,000, much less than the $480,000 found.

Russell Richardson's analysis was meant to support the Cuba argument, but the cross-examination focused on the fact that cash seized at the Menendez house was in bundles of $10,000 and had Daibes' fingerprints in the envelopes. Richardson said he didn't find records of Menendez withdrawing $10,000 at once at any given point.

The jury is expected to get the case on Thursday and begin its deliberations before delivering the verdict. Menendez has pleaded not guilty. He has rejected pleads from fellow Democrats to resign and instead will run for re-election as an independent, although polls show his candidacy to be a long shot.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.