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Senator Menendez lashes out at FBI in battle over psychiatrist testimony

Politics


Lawyers for indicted Sen. Bob Menendez have accused prosecutors of making public his sensitive mental health information as the two sides disagree over whether a psychiatrist should be allowed to testify for the embattled Democrat during his bribery trial later this month.

Menendez’s lawyers alleged in a letter to Manhattan federal Judge Sidney Stein on Thursday that government lawyers “publicly revealed deeply private and sensitive details about Senator Menendez’s personal history and mental health diagnosis.”

The notoriety and subsequent media coverage “likely contaminated the pool of potential jurors,” the defense team added.

Senator Bob Menendez has accused prosecutors of making public sensitive mental health information about him. Gregory P. Mango

On Wednesday, prosecutors filed papers arguing that proposed expert witness Dr. Karen Rosenbaum was not allowed to testify at trial about her theory that Menendez had hoarded cash and gold bars because of past trauma. The government filing documented the exact condition Rosenbaum diagnosed Menendez with.

Rosenbaum — who previously testified for the defense of Manhattan “Killer Nanny” Yoselyn Ortega — is said to have alleged that because of Menendez’s family history as a refugee from Cuba and because of his father’s suicide over gambling debts, the Garden State Democrat had a habit of throwing away money . At home.

Menendez and his wife, Nadine, stashed nearly $500,000 in cash and at least 13 gold bars in their Englewood Cliffs home — all of which prosecutors say were bribes in exchange for political favors.

Days after the federal indictment was unsealed in September, the New York City-born senator told reporters he was keeping the money on hand because of “my family’s history of facing confiscation in Cuba.”

Menendez, 70, has a “fear of scarcity” that prompted “the development of a long-standing coping mechanism of routinely withdrawing and storing cash in his home” due to two traumatic events – his family fled Cuba and the death of his father, his lawyers said Rosenbaum would explain.

Dr. Karen Rosenbaum would testify on Menendez’s behalf about how his past trauma caused him to stash cash at home. Erik Thomas/NY Post

The defense team said the FBI’s disclosure of this information — specifically that the elder Menendez committed suicide after Bob stopped paying his gambling debts — violated Stein’s directions at an April 29 court conference so the two sides could reconcile. and were able to reach an agreement on the editing of evidence. before returning to court with any remaining disputes.

Although Menendez has not yet made a final decision on whether to call Rosenbaum, the government’s filing now “forces the defense’s hands” as the jury expects to hear testimony about Menendez’s mental health diagnosis, the letter said.

The New Jersey senator’s lawyers want the judge to force prosecutors to file an affidavit explaining why they published the information, to see whether they did so intentionally and what, if any, sanctions should be imposed against them.

The FBI raided Menendez’s home and found nearly $500,000 in cash and at least 13 gold bars, which he allegedly received as bribes. AP

Menendez, his wife and two others are accused of a scheme in which the senator allegedly used his office to grant favors to three businessmen and the countries of Egypt and Qatar in exchange for receiving cash, gold and a Mercedes convertible, among other things .

One of the businessmen, Jose Uribe, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.

Menendez will appear in court on May 13, while Nadine’s trial was postponed until July for health reasons.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment Friday.





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