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N.J. Sen. Bob Menendez, wife to face separate corruption trials

U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein Thursday ordered separate trials for Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez and wife, Nadine, due to her recent diagnosis of an undisclosed illness. They face bribery and obstruction charges. They are pictured leaving federal court in New York City after pleading not guilty Sept. 23, 2023. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein Thursday ordered separate trials for Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez and wife, Nadine, due to her recent diagnosis of an undisclosed illness. They face bribery and obstruction charges. They are pictured leaving federal court in New York City after pleading not guilty Sept. 23, 2023. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 11 (UPI) -- Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine, will face separate trials in their indictment for bribery, obstruction and acting as a foreign agent.

U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein Thursday ordered Nadine Menendez's case severed from her husband's due to what was said to be her medical issues.

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"This trial is going forward without Mrs. Menendez," the judge said.

The nature of her illness was not disclosed.

The medical issue was raised by Nadine Menendez on Wednesday when her lawyers asked the judge for an adjournment of the May 6 trial date over what they said was a recent diagnosis of a "serious medical condition."

Prosecutors had opposed severing the trials, arguing that several of the charges against her and the senator overlapped.

In addition to the medical issues, Nadine Menendez' motion to sever the trials said a joint trial would compromise her rights, too.

Citing Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure, her sever motion said severance is warranted "if there is a serious risk that a joint trial would compromise a specific trial right of one of the defendants, or prevent the jury from making a reliable judgment about guilt or innocence."

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Her lawyers said in the legal filing that Bob Menendez may testify in the trial and they argued that would compromise his wife's rights. They said a joint trial will "undoubtedly prejudice Ms. Menendez's right to defend herself at a fair trial."

"We understand that Senator Menendez may wish to testify at his own trial and that his testimony could include revealing confidential marital communications with Ms. Menendez that Senator Menendez deems essential and material to his defense," the sever motion said. "However, Ms. Menendez maintains her right to assert, and intends to assert, privilege as to her confidential marital communications."

Her lawyers painted that as an irreconcilable conflict between husband and wife with respect to the admissibility of marital communications.

Both Bob Menendez and his wife were indicted on three bribery charges. He also was charged with conspiracy for a public official to act as a foreign agent.

The charges accuse them of getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes paid in cash, gold bullion and mortgage payments, among other things.

The indictment alleges the senator was acting as a foreign agent of Egypt. Obstruction charges were added in a superceding indictment in March.

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