Federal prosecutors are pushing back against U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s request to postpone his bribery trial until July. They are urging a judge to reject the senator’s plea for a two-month delay, as the trial is currently scheduled for next spring.
Prosecutors opposed the request for a postponement, which came a week after defense lawyers presented several arguments for delaying the trial of the Democrat and his codefendants, including his wife.
After his arrest in September, the senator decided to step down from his role as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
According to prosecutors, the initial May 6 trial date was deemed suitable and did not receive any objections when it was initially announced, despite the fact that the circumstances remained unchanged.
“The prosecutors stated that the schedule for the trial was and continues to be reasonable, aligning with the significant public interest for a swift resolution,” the prosecutors wrote.
Defense lawyers have requested a delay in the trial, which is currently scheduled for May 6, citing several challenges that need to be addressed. These challenges include reviewing over 6.7 million documents, dealing with an “unprecedented” foreign-agent charge, and addressing complex legal questions. Despite their request for a two-month adjournment, they assure that the defendants will still be brought to trial within 10 months of their arrests.
Four defendants, including Menendez, have entered pleas of not guilty to a charge of bribery conspiracy. The charge alleges that Menendez and his wife accepted bribes in the form of cash, gold bars, and a luxury car from three New Jersey businessmen. These individuals sought the senator’s assistance and influence in matters related to foreign affairs.
The senator, along with his wife and a third defendant, have pleaded not guilty to the charge of conspiring to use the senator as an agent of the Egyptian government. Despite being prohibited from such activities as a member of Congress, they deny any involvement in the alleged conspiracy.
The defense lawyers have requested a delay, stating that the rapid pace at which the case is progressing is unusual, considering the complexity of the matter and the gravity of the charges involved.
The defense team intends to request Judge Sidney H. Stein in Manhattan to dismiss the indictment on various grounds. These grounds include constitutional and sufficiency reasons, as well as the argument that New York federal court is not the appropriate venue for the case.
According to prosecutors, the trial should not be delayed despite the extensive evidence provided to the defense. They argue that the amount of evidence is in line with the government’s initial promise during the first conference in October.
Prosecutors responded to the defendants’ suggestion of having multiple months to review discovery before filing motions, stating that if this were the case, the practice in the district would be significantly altered. They emphasized that the current schedule set by the Court is both expedited and reasonable.
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