Stacks of Cash at Menendez Home Were Not From His Bank, Prosecutors Say

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When Senator Robert Menendez was charged last year with corruption after investigators found $486,000 in cash stashed around his house in New Jersey, he offered a simple, “old-fashioned” explanation: It had been his custom to withdraw cash from a personal savings account to keep at home, a habit he learned from his Cuban immigrant parents.

But federal prosecutors, in papers filed late Friday, presented fresh details that they suggested undercut Mr. Menendez’s claim. Some of the cash was wrapped in bands showing it had been withdrawn, at least $10,000 at a time, from a bank where Mr. Menendez and his wife “had no known depository account.” This, prosecutors said, indicated “that the money had been provided to them by another person.”

This photo, which was included in an indictment, shows cash from envelopes found inside the jacket during a search by federal agents of the senator’s home.Credit…Pmonteleoni/U.S. Attorney Southern District N.Y., via Associated Press

Recently, Mr. Menendez’s lawyers had asked a judge to exclude much of the cash discovered in the home as evidence when the senator’s trial in Manhattan starts next month, arguing that there was no proof the money was linked to a crime. The prosecutors’ Friday filing was in response to this request.

The issue of the cash cuts to a critical theme of the government’s case: that the senator and his wife, Nadine Menendez, had a lifestyle that was above their means and funded by bribes.

A federal indictment says that the cash, along with gold bars and other valuable items, were “fruits” of a bribery scheme. Much of the cash found in the couple’s house in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., was discovered in a bedroom closet, prosecutors said in their filing. Additional cash was found in a duffel bag in an office, in a bag on a shelf above a coat rack in the basement, in the pockets of men’s jackets hanging on the coat rack, and inside footwear under jackets. In addition, more than $70,000 was found in a safe deposit box maintained by Ms. Menendez, the government said.

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