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Gold Bar Bob Menendez will claim he hoarded because parents fled Cuba — putting family history on trial

New Jersey senator Rob Menendez is to launch a “Finding Your Roots” protection in his federal corruption trial — claiming his Cuban heritage has given him PTSD.

The indicted Democrat will claim he suffers from “intergenerational post-traumatic stress disorder” due to his parents’ expertise in Cuba earlier than he was even born, federal court docket papers say.

The claim will kind a key a part of his protection as soon as a jury is sworn in at Manhattan federal court docket, the place jury choice started Monday.

Two gold bars.
As a part of his protection, Menendez is predicted to make use of an knowledgeable witness to claim {that a} “fear of scarcity” from his childhood was behind his resolution to stash gold and copious quantities of money at house. U.S. Attorneyâs Office

Menendez, 70, is accused of 16 legal counts, together with wire fraud, extortion, obstruction of justice, and conspiring to behave as a overseas agent for Qatar and Egypt — with prosecutors saying he was bribed with gold bars, almost $500,000 in money and a luxurious Mercedes convertible.

The senator is accused of stashing the spoils within the Englewood Cliffs, NJ, house he shares along with his second spouse, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, who he married in 2020 and who can also be indicted however will go on trial individually in July.

Menendez, Arslanian and their co-defendants, New Jersey businessmen Fred Daibes and Wael Hanna all vehemently deny all prices. If discovered responsible he would face expulsion from the Senate and a sentence of as much as 200 years.

US District Judge Sidney Stein warned potential jurors Monday that the trial is more likely to take as much as seven weeks.

Black and white picture of Bob Menendez and his family in the 1950s.
According to 1 account by Menendez (entrance), his mom, Evangelina (second left), made the choice to go away Cuba within the early Nineteen Fifties because she feared that the Cuban authorities would expropriate the family’s property. Senator Bob Menendez

It is unclear if Menendez himself will take the stand however he has already revealed elements of his potential plan to safe an acquittal.

Jurors are anticipated to listen to from a minimum of two knowledgeable witnesses who’re poised to testify that his parents fleeing Cuba within the early Nineteen Fifties formed Menendez’s life — despite the fact that he was born in New York in 1954.

Psychiatrist Karen Rosenbaum, one of many two knowledgeable witnesses, is predicted to testify that Menendez skilled two “significant traumatic events” that led to “intergenerational post traumatic stress disorder,” court docket papers say.

The occasions associated to Menendez’s family’s “experience as refugees, who had their funds confiscated by the Cuban government and were left with only a small amount of cash that they had stashed away in their home,” court docket papers say.

Robert Menendez poses with his mother, Evangelina Menendez.
Evangelina Menendez, who labored as a seamstress when she landed within the US, died in 2009. Menendez could use an knowledgeable witness to recommend says he grew up with trauma because of his family’s flight from the Caribbean island. Senator Bob Menendez

But Menendez himself has provided apparently shifting accounts of why his parents — each now useless — left Cuba.

While he was a rising political star in Union City, NJ, in 1980, he instructed the Jersey Journal that his father, Mario, was a authorities minister in Cuba who moved to the US when he foresaw political bother in pre-revolutionary Cuba.

But in 2014 he told the Jewish Standard that it was his mom who pushed to go away, and stated nothing about his family being politically linked.

In the 2014 interview he claimed his parents have been “ordinary working people” and that his father ran a manufacturing facility for a New York-based necktie producer.

Jacket that says "Senator Menendez" and hundred dollar bills.
Federal brokers discovered $480,000 in money — a few of it stuffed within the pockets of a jacket — in Senator Menendez’s New Jersey house. Menendez has indicated he may claim that he had a “fear of scarcity” so stockpiled money. US District Court

Menendez stated his father was hesitant to go away, however Evangelina, who already had two younger kids, was decided to go away, a number of years earlier than revolutionary Fidel Castro got here to energy and commenced expropriating native firms.

“My mother didn’t like [Fulgencio] Batista,” he stated, referring to the dictator who took over in 1952. “She didn’t like what she saw in the mountains, with the cattle barons, and she didn’t like what she was afraid was coming.

 “They didn’t have much – but what they had was in Cuba. And she said, ‘Either you come with us or we leave you behind.’”

Neither account stated his parents’ money had been taken. Public paperwork affirm that his mom, Evangelina Lopez Menendez, whom he has typically described as an impoverished immigrant, left Cuba within the early Nineteen Fifties.

Karen Rosenbaum, a forensic psychiatrist, walks with a cup of coffee.
Forensic psychiatrist Karen Rosenbaum is predicted to testify that Robert Menendez suffers from “intergenerational trauma” because of his family’s flight from Cuba within the early Nineteen Fifties. Erik Thomas/NY Post

The potential protection means prosecutors will need to dig down into Menendez’s origin story if he sticks with the plan to make use of it, a authorized knowledgeable on the University of Chicago Law School instructed The Post.

“I’m sure that the government is going to want to prove that everything Menendez is saying is correct,” stated Sharon Fairley, a professor of observe on the legislation faculty.

Menendez has additionally indicated he may claim that he is traumatized by his father’s loss of life. In court docket paperwork, his attorneys stated that Mario, “a compulsive gambler,” dedicated suicide when Menendez determined to cease paying his playing money owed.

The mixture of his parents fleeing Cuba and his father’s playing led him to stockpile money at house as a “coping mechanism” to his “fear of scarcity,” he has stated he could argue.

Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista raises his hand at a press conference in Cuba.
Military officer andCuban dictator Fulgencio Batista took energy in Cuba in 1952. Menendez has claimed that his father was a authorities minister beneath the earlier Cuban authorities of Carlos Prio Socarras, who was deposed in a army coup led by Batista. Bettmann Archive

According to public information, Mario Menendez died in Hoboken on June 1, 1978 when he was 63 years outdated.

Fairley stated that Menendez’s legal professionals are utilizing the trauma protection more likely to show that he didn’t have evil or corrupt intentions when he hoarded the money or allegedly accepted bribes.

Menendez may additionally blame his spouse for introducing him to their co-defendants, in line with court docket paperwork unsealed final month.

He could argue that his spouse “withheld information,” main him to consider that nothing unlawful befell after they accepted the gold bars and money in alternate for political favors.

Menendez final confronted a federal corruption trial in 2017, accused of taking lavish journeys to the Caribbean on the non-public airplane of benefactor Salmon Melgen, a Palm Beach eye physician, who was additionally indicted on bribery and corruption prices.

The case resulted in a mistrial, and the Department of Justice dropped the fees after the Supreme Court narrowed the definition of bribing a public official. Melgen was individually convicted of Medicare fraud.

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