Menendez says his wife, a co-defendant in corruption case, has cancer

NEW YORK - Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) announced Thursday as opening statements continued in his corruption trial that his wife has advanced breast cancer and will undergo surgery and possibly radiation treatment.

The news came a day after a defense attorney told the jury that Nadine Menendez, 57, had kept her husband in the dark about her personal finances and about where she obtained gold bars and other luxury items that the FBI seized - which prosecutors say were bribes from several businessmen in exchange for the senator’s help on ventures involving Egypt and Qatar.

“Nadine is suffering from Grade 3 breast cancer, which will require her to have mastectomy surgery,” Menendez said in a four-paragraph statement released by his office. “We are of course, concerned about the seriousness and advanced stage of the disease. … We hope and pray for the best results.”

Nadine Menendez was indicted with her husband and is currently scheduled to be tried in July. Her attorney declined to comment Thursday.

Her legal team disclosed in a court filing last month that she was “recently diagnosed with a serious medical condition that will require a surgical procedure in the next four to six weeks as well as possibly significant follow-up and recovery treatment.” The condition was not identified then.

Menendez’s statement said she had asked him to disclose her diagnosis “as a result of constant press inquiries and reporters following my wife.” It portrayed the couple as more united than the picture painted in court by the lawmaker’s defense team.

According to prosecutors, a trace of serial numbers on the ingots found in the couple’s Englewood Cliffs, N.J., residence in 2022 showed they came from New Jersey real estate developer Fred Daibes, another co-defendant.


Menendez attorney Avi Weitzman told the jury Wednesday that the senator’s wife had “sidelined” him from conversations she was having with Daibes and other New Jersey businessmen who are alleged to have supplied her with gold, cash, a Mercedes-Benz convertible and other items, in exchange for her husband’s assistance on deals with Egypt and an investment fund run by a member of the Qatari royal family.

The senator, 70, is also accused of pressuring state and federal prosecutors in New Jersey to drop criminal probes into Daibes and two others.

Weitzman said the couple “largely lived separate lives” after they married in 2020 and did not share bank accounts, credit cards or cellphone plans.

“She kept him in the dark on what she was asking others to give her,” Weitzman said. “She was outgoing; she was fun-loving. But she wasn’t going to let Bob know that she had financial problems. So what did Nadine do? She tried to get cash and assets any which way she could.”

Opening statements concluded Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The prosecution’s first witness is an FBI agent who is testifying about the 2022 search of the Menendez home and the “loose cash, gold, envelopes of cash, jewelry, gold coins, one-ounce gold bars, one-kilogram gold bar” and other things that were seized.

Attorneys for Daibes and the final co-defendant, New Jersey businessman Wael “Will” Hana, told the jury that prosecutors would not be able to prove their clients had a corrupt agreement to provide cash and luxury items in exchange for official acts by Menendez to benefit their businesses.