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Sen. Bob Menendez decides not to delay May trial with appeal of judge's ruling

FILE - Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., departs the Senate floor in the Capitol, Sept. 28, 2023, in Washington. Menendez will not seek reelection to a fourth term in the Senate as he faces federal corruption charges and a significant loss in support from the Democratic Party. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez will not appeal a judge’s ruling on Constitutional grounds that would have delayed his May trial, his lawyers said Thursday.

The Democrat’s lawyers notified the Manhattan federal judge who will preside over the May 6 trial in a letter that the senator’s decision was “principally motivated by his desire to proceed to trial and establish his innocence without further delay.”

He has pleaded not guilty to corruption charges filed after investigators discovered gold bars and cash at his New Jersey home.

Prosecutors say the gold and cash resulted from bribes that he and his wife received in exchange for favors Menendez carried out for three New Jersey businessmen.

Earlier this month, Judge Sidney H. Stein ruled that multiple warrants used to conduct 2022 searches of the Democrat’s email accounts and his home were properly sought and carried out.

The warrants had been contested by Menendez under provisions of the Constitution that would have allowed an appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prior to a trial if the senator chose to go that route.

The senator’s lawyers had claimed the warrants were “riddled with material misrepresentation and omissions that deceived the authorizing magistrate judge.”

Stein said any omissions in the warrants were not intentional or material for searches of his home in June 2022 that resulted in the discovery of over $100,000 worth of gold bars and more than $480,000 in cash. Prosecutors said much of the gold and cash was hidden in closets, clothing and a safe.

Menendez, 70, said the cash found in the house was personal savings he had put away for emergencies. After his fall arrest, Menendez was forced to relinquish his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but said he would not resign from Congress.

Besides Menendez, his wife, Nadine, and two businessmen also have pleaded not guilty to charges. A third businessman facing charges has pled guilty in a cooperation deal with prosecutors that calls for him to testify at trial.

According to an indictment, Menendez and his wife accepted gold bars and cash from a real estate developer in return for the senator using his clout to get that businessman a multimillion-dollar deal with a Qatari investment fund.

Menendez also was charged with helping another New Jersey business associate get a lucrative deal with the government of Egypt.