Judge won’t allow Menendez defense to put psychiatrist on stand, as openings expected Wednesday

The federal judge presiding over the bribery case against Sen. Bob Menendez will not allow a psychiatrist to testify at trial about a condition his defense attorneys say could explain the hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash investigators found during a raid of the New Jersey Democrat’s home.

The judge, Sidney Stein, made several rulings on witnesses Tuesday as testimony is expected to kick off in federal court in New York later this week. After two days of jury selection, Stein told the defense teams and prosecutors that he expects a jury to be selected and sworn in by the end of Wednesday morning, with opening statements beginning that afternoon.

Prosecutors will present their case first, followed by the defense.

Menendez is accused of taking bribes, including gold bars, cash and a luxury car, while acting as an agent of a foreign government. He’s standing trial with two co-defendants, New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana and Fred Daibes. Menendez’s wife, Nadine, has also been charged but will be tried separately. All four have pleaded not guilty.

According to court filings, defense attorneys for Menendez wanted Dr. Karen Rosenbaum to testify that, stemming from trauma caused by his family’s property being confiscated in Cuba as well as the suicide of his father, the senator suffers from a condition that leads to a fear of scarcity.

Because of this condition, his attorneys wrote in a court filing, Menendez developed “a longstanding coping mechanism of routinely withdrawing and storing cash in his home.”

Stein found “substantial deficiencies” in the defense’s request for the doctor’s testimony, adding that it was based on impermissible hearsay.

“It just doesn’t stand up,” the judge said of the request for expert testimony.

When he was charged in September, Menendez also pointed to his family’s past in Cuba, saying that because of the confiscation they faced he had withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash for more than 30 years.

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