A federal judge set the date for U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s bribery trial for May 6th, 2024, but given the early stages of the case, that date is unlikely to stick.
A pretrial conference for Menendez and his four co-defendants, his wife Nadine, Wael Hanna, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes, was held in federal court today after they all pleaded not guilty last week.
U.S. District Court Judge Sidney H. Stein wrote in an order that the last day for the government to produce discovery is December 4th, any defense motions must be filed by January 8th, 2024, with responses then due on January 29th, and any reply due by February 5th.
The trial date is also set for May 6th, 2024 at 9:30 a.m., which would be just under a month before the U.S. Senate primary election, which is on June 4th, 2024, therefore the filing deadline would’ve passed about a month prior.
While Menendez hasn’t explicitly said he is running for re-election, those details are unlikely to matter since in the prior corruption case brought forth by the U.S. Department of Justice, he was indicted on April 1st, 2015.
While the initial trial date was set for just a little over three months later, the trial didn’t actually commence until September 5th, 2017. That case, where he was accused of using his influence to aid friend and political donor Salomon Melgen, ended in a hung jury.
This time, the allegations are far more serious, with federal prosecutors charging Menendez his wife with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color and official right.
They are accused of having a “corrupt relationship” with Hana, Uribe, and Daibes, who are all New Jersey businessmen. Those three are charged with the first two counts.
Menendez is also accused of trading government secrets with the country of Egypt to help secure a U.S. Department of Agriculture contract with Hana’s halal meat company.
Overall, the indictment charges that the Menendezes accepted corrupt payments for their mortgage, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300, $486,471 in cash, another $79,760 from the safe deposit box, two one-kilogram gold bars, and 11 one-ounce gold bars.
Nevertheless, Menendez has been clear in that he has no plans to resign, despite dozens of state leaders and fellow Democratic senators calling on him to do so.