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In Menendez Trial Jocular Jeweler Calls Bob an Honorary Armenian Then Jokes on Way Out

by Matthew Russell Lee

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 25 – Amid reports of investigation against Sen. Robert Menendez for taking gold bars, Inner City Press' sources on September 21 it to expect on Friday, September 22 an appearance in Federal court in Manhattan by Menendez and his wife Nadine Arslanian. This scoop was true.

Later a superseder was unveiled, including charges of bribes to act for Qatar...

On April 11, 2024 after Nadine Menendez and then the government asked for delay, to July or undefined, Judge Stein severed her case and reaffirmed May 6, Inner City Press thread

On Sunday night April 14 the US wrote in again asking for a delay to July, six page letter on Patreon here.

But Judge Stein told the parties to confer and report by April 16 at 1 pm. Then he set an April 17 conference, which Inner City Press live tweeted and dubbed "Berate-gate," thread

On May 13, jury selection began - but did not finish. Abit later, Menendez got into an car with FOP NJ plates.

On May 14 jury selection continued but was not yet completed, from the ending, thread

Late on May 14, the US Attorney's Office filed opposition to slides the defense wants to use in its opening arguments, including quotes from Colin Powell and MLK, and when Nadine came into possession of gold - full letter on Patreon here

Inner City Press live tweeted jury selection and then opening arguments here, then filmed Bob's exit (he said he thought it went well and that his guy did great).

On May 21, the US Attorney's Office put on Wael Hana's lawyer, then a US State Department official working on Congressional approval (or holds) on arms transfer to Egypt, thread here.

On May 23, with the trial in haitus, docketed was Menendez' lawyers opposition to quashing his subpoena for Jose Uribe's attorney proffer and communications with SDNY prosecutors, filing on Patreon here

On May 29, Inner City Press live tweeted, omitting Morton's steakhouse but including this

On May 30, Menendez's lawyer's (long) cross, including this.

On May 31, starting 1 pm, the agent was cross examined, and then USDA Ted McKinney on direct, thread

  After the trial day, Inner City Press filed Menendez' walk to his Jersey-plated car; asked why he called McKinney he said, Wait for the cross [examination].

Nadine Menendez hired a new lawyer, who previously represented Sydney Powell among others. Then this: "ORDER as to Nadine Menendez: At the request of the defendant and with the consent of the government [Doc. No. 434], the status conference is adjourned from June 10 to June 12 at 5 :00 p.m.(Signed by Judge Sidney H. Stein on 6/3/2024)."

On June 4 Judge Stein dockted a partially redacted Order in which he denied Menendez's request that the prosecutors give him impeachment material about a Confidential Human Source they are not going to call as a witness - but Menendez said he will.

On June 5, Inner City Press live tweeted - and afterward asked Menendez a question. Thread.

On June 6, after more cross of Agent Graves, Gurbir Grewal testified, thread

On June 7, after an FBI fingerprint expert, cooperator Jose Uribe, Inner City Press live tweeted, thread

On June 10, Uribe finished his direct examination around 4 pm, then counsel for Hana, not yet Menendez, began cross examination, thread.

On June 11, Uribe was cross examined - though not on the "strip club issue" after which out on Worth Street Menendez decried Uribe's crimes. Thread

On June 12, after the end of Uribe (including drunk driving and the "little bell"), US Attorney of NJ Sellinger took the stand, thread.

On June 13, trial day - and next day - was canceled by Daibes calling in with COVID: thread.

And then, book: GOLD BAR BAR Menendez Trial I, on Amazon here.

On June 18, after Daibes' COVID, things resumed with Sellinger, followed by Matt Soliman.

On June 20, alongside an FBI agent summary witness, a prosecution office witness out of order, thread.

On June 24, Menendez's staffer Sarah Arkin took the stand, from the thread

On June 25, Sarah Arkin finished up, including about upcoming job at State Department. Then, a currency (and money laundering) expert from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. From the thread

On June 26, there testimony about currency, and then a jocular Armenian jeweler, from the thread:

OK - now in US v. Menendez FBI Agent Fuchs to be day's first government witness, analyzes data and email.

Before jury comes in: Judge: Juror 15 told is from the start they have to be away June 27 to July 3. I propose to excuse the juror at the first break. No objection. Jury entering! AUSA: Agent Fuchs, how long did you work on this case? Isabella Fuchs: 1 week  AUSA: What did you look at? Agent Fuchs: Photos of the currency that was seized, looking for the serial numbers. Sometimes the photos were too blurry. So I would look at the cash itself.

AUSA: How much was in 21-B? Fuchs: $21,000. In cash.  AUSA: How about in this seized bag? Agent Fuchs: $95,000. Cross examination: Menendez's lawyer Weitzman: But what about this $66,000? Fuchs: It's not on my chart. Now in US v. Menendez, a jewelry expert, Armenian.

Menendez's lawyer Fee: Senator Menendez never came to your jewelry store, right? Witness: No

Fee: And he is not Armenian, is he? Witness: Some of the time. [Laughs] He helps us. But he is Cuban-American. 

Menendez's lawyer Fee: Armenians like to give gold as gifts? Witness: Yes. And Indians and Chinese. Fee: Do you know why people give gold gifts? AUSA: Objection. Judge: Do you know why? Witness: Can I answer? 

Menendez's lawyer Fee: Do people check the price of gold? Witness: No, with the Internet. Maybe it hurts our business. They know too much. Fee: For Mr. Hana and Mr. Daibes, you got one kilo and one ounce bars, and coins? Witness: Yes. Nadine, just bars.

 Menendez's lawyer Adam Fee: The bars, can you tell them apart Witness: They have serial numbers. But from Nadine, I didn't check the numbers. I just took them blindly and sold them. Fee: Nadine never told you she told Sen Menendez?

A: She never said  Menendez's lawyer Fee: Is it fair to say there was nothing strange about an Armenian New Jerseyite to come in and sell family gold?

Judge: Sustained. Witness: I didn't even understand it. Judge: That's why I sustained. Fee: You guys work well together (laughs)  Witness: What does it mean, sustained? Judge: That you don't answer the question. There is no reason for you to understand these legalisms. Witness: I am just a jeweler. Judge: Hardly [Laughter]

Menendez's lawyer Weitzman: I'll just let this play out  Judge: Jurors, we make some light comments but this is a serious matter and I know you'll treat it as such. Proceed. Menendez's lawyer Fee: Did Nadine haggled on your commission?

Witness: No. I made $320 a kilo. Judge: Let's take a break. Thread will continue  AUSA reads in stipulations, says more tomorrow. Judge: We're done.

 (Final?) update for thread: Still-Senator Menendez had not comment on Inner City Press' question (in Spanish) about the 45 year sentence imposed today on former Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez (who cited the SFRC in his pre-sentencing statement)

More on X for Subscribers here and Substack here

The case is US v. Menendez, et al., 23-cr-490 (Stein)

More on Substack here


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