(Bloomberg) -- The bribery trial of US Senator Bob Menendez and two businessmen was pushed back a week to May 13 by a judge who cited negotiations on a statement that averts the need to disqualify a co-defendant’s lawyer. 

US District Judge Sidney Stein in New York moved the date at a hearing Friday, where the New Jersey Democrat is accused of accepting bribes of cash, gold bars and a car to help three businessmen and the Egyptian government. Menendez, 70, is also charged with acting as a foreign agent of Egypt. 

Menendez, a senator since 2006, has seen his support in New Jersey and the Senate crumble since he was indicted in September, forcing him to step down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. US Representative Andy Kim is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary for the seat in June. Menendez has said he may run as an independent.

The senator’s wife, Nadine, has an undisclosed illness and will be tried separately. Menendez is prepared to blame his wife at trial for withholding information from him about gifts they allegedly accepted from businessmen seeking favors, court records show. 

Stein moved the trial after prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed on a factual statement, known as a stipulation, that allows an attorney for co-defendant Wael Hana to remain on the case. The judge said Wednesday that unless they could reach an agreement, prosecutors may have called the lawyer, Lawrence Lustberg, as a witness, forcing Hana to get a new lawyer. 

Menendez will be tried with Hana, an Egyptian American businessman, and Fred Daibes, a prominent New Jersey developer. While Lustberg represents Hana, he previously was the lawyer for Daibes in a New Jersey fraud case. One of the three main bribe schemes alleged by prosecutors accuses Menendez of seeking to influence that prosecution in exchange for cash and gold bars from Daibes. 

The seven-page stipulation, which will presented as evidence at trial, lays out efforts by Lustberg — referred to only as Daibes’s Counsel — to resolve the New Jersey case through a plea agreement. It also bolsters the indictment which said that in January 2022, Menendez and Daibes called Lustberg to “complain that the lawyer had not been aggressive enough in attempting to get Daibes’s case dismissed.”

The stipulation said that before the call, Daibes told Lustberg that Menendez thought Lustberg was “being a ‘wuss’ in his approach” and “should have been pushing for a dismissal.” 

Daibes pleaded guilty in April 2022 in a deal that called for a probationary sentence. Last October, a federal judge in New Jersey rejected that deal. 


©2024 Bloomberg L.P.