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Sen. Menendez reveals his wife has breast cancer as trial focuses on FBI raid of lawmaker’s home

By Associated Press
Published: May 16, 2024, 5:31pm
3 Photos
FILE - Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife Nadine Menendez arrive at the federal courthouse in New York, Sept. 27, 2023. Menendez said Thursday, May 16, 2024, that his wife has breast cancer and will require a mastectomy, a revelation made just as the presentation of evidence began at his New York bribery trial.
FILE - Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife Nadine Menendez arrive at the federal courthouse in New York, Sept. 27, 2023. Menendez said Thursday, May 16, 2024, that his wife has breast cancer and will require a mastectomy, a revelation made just as the presentation of evidence began at his New York bribery trial. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon, File) (frank franklin II/Associated Press) Photo Gallery

NEW YORK — Sen. Bob Menendez said Thursday that his wife will undergo a mastectomy after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, a revelation made just as the first evidence — pictures of 13 gold bars and over $480,000 in cash seized from the couple’s home — was shown to jurors at his New York bribery trial.

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

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

He added: “She will require follow up surgery and possibly radiation treatment. We hope and pray for the best results.”

Previously, lawyers for Nadine Menendez had requested her trial on charges in the case be delayed after she was diagnosed with what was only previously described publicly as a serious health issue.

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

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

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

Menendez’s statement about his wife was released just after opening statements were completed and the presentation of evidence began at his trial in Manhattan federal court.

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

He testified that two 2.2-pound gold bars, 11 1-ounce gold bars and $486,461 in cash were among valuables found in the home, along with cellphones and jewelry. In all, 52 items were seized.

At first, Kougemitros said, the FBI had directed agents to photograph any cash that was found, but not necessarily to seize it.

But he said that based on his experience, along with the “totality of the circumstances,” that he decided the amount of cash was so voluminous that it would be seized.

“I believed there was evidence potentially of a crime,” he said, drawing an objection from Menendez’s lawyer that was sustained.

Through dozens of photographs and the agent’s testimony, jurors were taken on a tour of the home as Kougemitros described where cash and the gold bars were discovered by a team of eight agents that was later supplemented by two Manhattan agents who brought cash-counting machines.

The gold bars were found in a safe and on the floor nearby inside locked closets in a bedroom, he said. Much of the cash was found stuffed in jacket pockets, in two pairs of boots and on a shelf in the home’s basement, he said.

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