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The New Jersey Democrat is accused of a ‘pattern of corruption.’ Here’s the latest.

LocalThe New Jersey Democrat is accused of a ‘pattern of corruption.’ Here’s the latest.


A federal prosecutor urged jurors in the bribery case against Senator Robert Menendez to focus on what he called a “clear pattern of corruption.”Credit…Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times

Prosecutors began closing their case against Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey on Monday, retracing the highlights of a tangled bribery scheme they say led the senator and his wife, Nadine Menendez, to sell out his office for cash, gold bars and even an elliptical trainer machine.

Paul Monteleoni, a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, conceded that after weeks of testimony, the government’s case had grown into a tangled web of business deals and foreign intrigue. But he urged the jury to refocus of what he called a “clear pattern of corruption.”

“The timeline tells you what happened,” he said. “When Menendez hears Nadine is going to get paid, he springs into action again and again.”

There was the time Mr. Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, helped ghostwrite a letter for Egyptian officials who were trying to unlock $300 million in aid. Or when he called a top official at the Department of Agriculture to help protect the halal meat monopoly of a New Jersey businessman who promised to put Ms. Menendez on the payroll.

Afterward, Mr. Monteleoni said that the businessman, Wael Hana, and another wealthy associate began paying Ms. Menendez a generous salary.

Gold bars, car payments and other perks soon followed when the senator agreed to help the businessmen quash a pair of criminal prosecutions, he argued.

At several points, prosecutors sought to discredit key arguments by the defense. For example, Mr. Menendez’s lawyers have asserted that their client was “in the dark” about the benefits his wife exacted for his actions.

Mr. Monteleoni said that was not believable, and he presented text messages and Google search history that he said showed Mr. Menendez knew exactly what his wife was receiving.

“You don’t get to be the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by being clueless,” he said.

Mr. Monteleoni was expected to complete his closing argument on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Menendez’s lawyers will then have their own final chance to address the jury.

Mr. Menendez fumed as he left the courthouse on Monday.

“The government is intoxicated with their own rhetoric,” he said, adding that prosecutors were trying to tell jurors what “conversations should be that they never heard.”



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