Senator Bob Menendez reveals his wife has breast cancer as his trial centers on FBI raid on his home

NEW YORK – Sen. Bob Menendez said Thursday that his wife would undergo a mastectomy after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, a revelation that came as the first evidence – photos of 13 gold bars and more than $480,000 in cash confiscated from the couple’s home – was shown to his jurors bribery trial in a New York court.

The New Jersey Democrat said he was disclosing his wife’s health crisis at her request after repeated media inquiries.

“We are obviously concerned about the seriousness and advanced stage of the disease,” the senator said in a statement.

He added: “She will require further surgery and possibly radiotherapy. We hope and pray for the best possible results.”

” READ MORE: Potential jurors in the Menendez corruption trial have been told that U.S. senators may be called or subpoenaed as witnesses

Nadine Menendez’s lawyers previously asked for a postponement of her trial on the charges in the case after she was diagnosed with what had previously only been publicly described as a serious health problem.

Judge Sidney H. Stein adjourned the trial until at least July. Nadine Menendez, who married the senator two years after she started dating him in 2018, has pleaded not guilty.

One of her lawyers declined to comment in response to Bob Menendez’s Thursday disclosure.

During the trial with two of the three businessmen who allegedly paid him bribes, the senator pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, fraud, extortion, obstruction of justice and acting as a foreign agent of Egypt. A third businessman pleaded guilty in this case and will testify against the others.

Menendez’s statement about his wife was released just after opening statements were completed and evidence began to be presented at a hearing in federal court in Manhattan.

The first witness in the trial was FBI agent Aristotelis Kougemitros, who described leading a June 2022 raid on the couple’s home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

He testified that two valuable 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) gold bars, 11 1-ounce gold bars and $486,461 in cash were found in the house, as well as cellphones and jewelry. A total of 52 items were seized.

Kougemitros said the FBI initially directed agents to photograph the cash they found, but not necessarily to confiscate it.

However, he stated that based on his experience and training, as well as “the totality of the circumstances”, he decided that the amount of cash was so large that it would be confiscated.

“I believed there was evidence of a potential crime,” he said, drawing an objection from Menendez’s lawyer, which was upheld by the judge.

Based on dozens of photos and the agent’s testimony, jurors were taken on a tour of the house, as Kougemitros described, where the cash and gold bars were found by a team of eight agents, later supplemented by two agents from Manhattan who brought money-counting machines.

He said gold bars were found in a safe and on the floor nearby, in closed bedroom closets. He added that most of the cash was found in jacket pockets, two pairs of shoes and on a shelf in the basement of the house.

One pair of Timberland shoes contained $14,500 in cash distributed almost evenly, while each other set of shoes also contained cash, he added.

Kougemitros said the black jacket in which the cash was found had envelopes worth $21,000 in its pockets. He added that the remaining jackets cost $4,300, $6,000 and $8,000.

On a nearby shelf, he said, a plastic bag contained $100,000 and another contained $95,000.

Earlier in the day, lawyers for New Jersey developer Fred Daibes and businessman Wael Hana made opening remarks to jurors a day after the prosecutor and Menendez’s lawyer made opening statements.

Attorney Lawrence Lustberg, representing Hana, said prosecutors based the case against his client on “innocent acts.”

He said that Hana has been friends with Nadine Menendez since 2009 and that Hana and Nadine Menendez have exchanged expensive gifts over the years. He said there was never a time when Hana paid a bribe directly to Bob Menendez or indirectly through Nadine Menendez in exchange for the senator’s official activities.

” READ MORE: Bob Menendez is losing money while the New Jersey senator’s legal troubles escalate and his fundraising plummets

Attorney Cesar De Castro, representing Daibes, told jurors the case involved marital relationships and that prosecutors tried to exploit facts about the three-decade friendship between the senator and Daibes to claim a crime had occurred. He said they would conclude his client was innocent.

On Wednesday, attorney Avi Weitzman, representing Bob Menendez, told jurors that his client had no idea his spouse had accepted gifts from three businessmen and had no idea about the cash and gold bars hidden in a closet in their home.

The statement came after Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz’s opening statement, in which the prosecutor repeatedly highlighted gold bars and cash found in the home.

Menendez has held public office continuously since 1986 and served as a state legislator before serving 14 years as a U.S. congressman. In 2006, then-Gov. Jon Corzine nominated Menendez for the Senate seat he vacated when he became governor.

The trial, which started on Monday, is expected to last a maximum of two months.

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