Judge rejects Bob Menendez’s attempt to delay criminal trial

Senator Robert Menendez walks to the Senate Chambers in the US Capitol Building on 15 November 2023 (Getty Images)
Senator Robert Menendez walks to the Senate Chambers in the US Capitol Building on 15 November 2023 (Getty Images)

A federal judge has rejected embattled Sen Bob Menendez’s attempt to delay his criminal trial in a filing.

Mr Menendez and his wife Nadine, along with three of his accused associates, had sought a two-month delay of Mr Menendez’s criminal trial from 6 May 2024 to early July.

But Sidney Stein, a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, denied the request on Thursday. Judge Stein wrote that both parties in the case had agreed to the date back in October.

“There has been no material change since then in the parties' circumstances,” Judge Stein wrote. “The fact that discovery has been voluminous is consistent with the parties' stated expectations on October 2 and does not justify a two-month adjournment of the schedule.”

To the contrary, Judge Stein wrote that the volume of discovery has been less than Mr Menendez and his associates worried it would be when they filed for the delay. An inadvertent error by a discovery vendor had mistakenly made the defendants believe that they had received 735 terabytes of data rather than three terabytes.

“While three terabytes is concededly a substantial amount of data, it is but a tiny fraction of what defendants believed they had on their plates to digest and is consistent with the expectations voiced at the initial pretrial conference that discovery would be voluminous,” the judge wrote.

In September, a federal grand jury indictment charged Mr Menendez, a longtime New Jersey Democratic senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with bribery and corruption charges, along with his wife and New Jersey real estate developer Fred Daibes as well as associates Wael Hana and Jose Uribe.

The prosecutors alleged that Mr Menendez and his wife engaged in a “corrupt relationship with the three businessmen wherein they accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes between 2018 up until 2022 for a number of schemes, including providing sensitive information to the Egyptian government and influencing criminal investigations.

They also seized $100,000 worth of gold bars and more than $480,000 in cash that had been stuffed in envelopes, hidden in clothing or hidden in a home bank, the indictment read.

Mr Menendez vehemently denied any wrongdoing but at the same time temporarily stepped down from his position as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

In turn, a number of Democratic senators called for Mr Menendez’s resignation, including his fellow New Jersey Sen Cory Booker.

-Alex Woodward contributed to this report.