Testimony At Sen. Bob Menendez's Bribery Trial Focuses On His Wife's New Jersey Home

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., leaves federal court Thursday, May 16, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., leaves federal court Thursday, May 16, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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NEW YORK (AP) — A New Jersey businessman rescued the home of Sen. Bob Menendez's wife from foreclosure just as the Democrat allegedly helped him secure a lucrative business relationship with Egypt, a lawyer testifying at his bribery trial said Monday.

Attorney John Moldovan told a Manhattan federal court jury that he was working for the businessman, Wael Hana, in July 2019 when he was asked to pay over $20,000 toward the Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, home’s mortgage.

Moldovan said Hana provided the money that he delivered to a bank to negate the need for a mortgage foreclosure lawsuit.

Menendez, 70, who has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, moved into the home after the couple married a year later. Hana and Menendez's wife, Nadine, have pleaded not guilty in the case as well, although Nadine Menendez's trial has been postponed until July after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and surgery was required.

In 2022, an FBI raid turned up 13 gold bars and over $480,000 in cash in the home, and a federal agent who led the raid testified extensively about it last week, saying tens of thousands of dollars were found stuffed in four jackets where the senator kept his coats. Other cash was found in bags and in a closet safe.

Prosecutors say the gold bars, cash and a luxury car found in the couple's garage were bribery proceeds.

Lawyers for Menendez have said that the gold bars belonged to his wife and that the senator hoarded cash at home as a reaction to trauma from his family losing everything, except cash, before they fled Cuba — and before he was born.

Moldovan testified that Hana asked him to establish a legal record that the money to pay off outstanding debt on the mortgage was a loan rather than a gift.

In all, Nadine Menendez owed nearly $271,000 on a $320,750 mortgage, Moldovan said.

Prosecutors say the mortgage payment was made just as Hana was securing a monopoly with Egypt to ensure that any meat exported there from the U.S. was certified by Hana's company to prove it was processed in a manner that conformed with Islamic dietary requirements.

Prosecutors say while he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez took favorable actions toward Egypt to aid Hana, who had been friends with Nadine Menendez for many years. He had to relinquish the position after his fall arrest.

Among the charges lodged against the senator is that he was acting as a foreign agent of Egypt.

The trial, which began last week, is supposed to last at least another month.