- The details outlined in Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez’s Friday indictment, which highlights stacks of cash found hidden in his home, a luxury vehicle and “over one hundred thousand dollars” worth of gold bars he allegedly received as bribes, make his case difficult to defend, legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- Menendez was indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from his alleged acceptance of bribes for using his office to aid the government of Egypt and enrich three New Jersey businessmen.
- “And what [prosecutors] have revealed of their evidence is merely the tip of the iceberg – there is more to this case that they have not yet revealed such as audio recordings, video, electronic communications such as emails and text messages, and witness testimony,” criminal defense attorney and legal analyst Philip Holloway told the DCNF.
Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez’s indictment will be difficult to defend, legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Menendez was indicted Friday on federal corruption charges stemming from his alleged acceptance of bribes, including stacks of cash found hidden in his home, a luxury vehicle and “over one hundred thousand dollars” worth of gold bars, in exchange for using his office to aid the government of Egypt and enrich three New Jersey businessmen. Despite his efforts to defend himself at a Monday press conference, legal experts said the details laid out in the indictment will present a major challenge for the defense. (RELATED: The Details Of Bob Menendez’s Alleged Bribery Scheme Are Outright Cartoonish)
“I think Senator Menendez is headed for prison,” criminal defense attorney and legal analyst Philip Holloway told the DCNF. “He’s facing a maximum of 45 years in prison so this may be effectively a life sentence for him.”
Menendez claimed during the Monday press conference that the cash was taken from his personal savings account and kept “due to a history of property confiscations in Cuba.” Holloway responded on Fox News, saying Menendez is an “idiot” and noting the indictment linked DNA and fingerprints on the cash envelopes to one of the businessmen implicated in the scheme.
Holloway told the DCNF the indictment is what is referred to as a “speaking indictment,” which gives more detail than necessary for outlining the charges. “By showing some of the evidence and fruits of the alleged crime in the indictment itself, such as cash and gold bars, prosecutors are purposefully showing that they hold a very strong hand,” he said. “This is a strategy to give the indictment a certain ‘shock value’ that will turn up the public pressure on Menendez to negotiate a plea deal rather than fight the case in court. And what they have revealed of their evidence is merely the tip of the iceberg – there is more to this case that they have not yet revealed such as audio recordings, video, electronic communications such as emails and text messages, and witness testimony.”
Jessica Tillipman, George Washington University associate dean for government procurement law studies, told the DCNF there is a “high bar” for prosecuting these kind of white collar cases that make it difficult to say whether it will ultimately result in conviction.
“That said, this has all the hallmarks of a fairly robust corruption prosecution,” Tillipman said, noting it is complete with “eyebrow raising” details like gold bars and jackets stuffed with cash. “The prosecutors worked hard to tie the improper things of value — that would be, again, the cash, the car, the gold bars — to very specific official activities.”
Stanley Brand, a Penn State law professor who served as general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1976 to 1983, highlighted possible avenues for the defense to take in a recent interview with The Conversation, which he pointed the DCNF toward. Brand cited a 2016 Supreme Court ruling on bribery charges against former Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell that limited what qualified as corruption, narrowing the bribery statute’s definition of “official acts.”
“The Supreme Court rejected an interpretation of official acts that included arranging meetings with state officials and hosting events at the governor’s mansion, or promoting a private businessman’s products at such events,” he told The Conversation. “When it comes time for the judge to instruct the jury at the end of the trial, Menendez may well be able to argue that much of what he did in fact did not constitute ‘official acts’ and therefore are not illegal under the bribery statute.”
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