On Thursday, March 21, 2024, the New Jersey Monitor reported that Nadine Menendez, the wife of Sen. Bob Menendez, informed a federal judge of her decision to retain her current legal defense team, despite objections from prosecutors over potential conflicts of interest.

According to the article, federal prosecutors argued that Mrs. Menendez’s attorneys, David Schertler, Danny Onorato, and Paola Pinto, could be called as witnesses in her upcoming trial scheduled for May 6, 2024. Prosecutors claim the lawyers have knowledge of meetings in 2023 where the couple provided false information to them. They also allege the attorneys are aware of payments made by the Menendez toward a Mercedes Benz and Mrs. Menendez’s mortgage that the government says were repayments of bribes.

U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein presided over a Curcio hearing to address the conflict of interest concerns raised by prosecutors. He explained to Mrs. Menendez that keeping her current defense team could present limitations. Specifically, her attorneys would be restricted in what facts they could present relating to events they directly participated in or have private knowledge of. Judge Stein also noted the lawyers could potentially be disqualified from representing her altogether if conflicts cannot be resolved.

Despite these warnings, Mrs. Menendez confirmed to the judge that she wanted to maintain her legal counsel of Schertler, Onorato, and Pinto. When Judge Stein asked if she needed more time to consider, she said no additional time was necessary.

Senator Bob Menendez and three co-defendants, including his wife, are facing charges of bribery, acting as a foreign agent for Egypt and Qatar, and other allegations. They have pleaded not guilty. During the hearing, neither the senator nor two other co-defendants were present in the courtroom.

Following the proceedings, Mrs. Menendez and her attorneys left the New Jersey courthouse without commenting to journalists. Judge Stein gave prosecutors two weeks to try and settle the conflict of interest matter with the defense lawyers before potentially disqualifying them on April 6, 2024. The senator and his wife’s trial is still on track to begin one month later on May 6, 2024.

Source: New Jersey Monitor