Political Corruption Trial Takes Bizarre Turn: Menendez Enlists Expert Linked To Child Murder Case

By Maria Angelino | Wednesday, 17 April 2024 04:30 PM
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In a surprising turn of events, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, currently facing corruption charges, has enlisted the services of a psychiatrist who previously testified in defense of a convicted child murderer.

Karen Rosenbaum, a forensic psychiatrist, was paid $4,200 last month as an "expert witness," according to recent filings from Menendez's legal defense fund.

Senator Menendez, who is facing 18 counts of corruption and bribery, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Manhattan on May 6. He stands accused of selling his office to foreign governments in exchange for gold bars and cash. The recent filing provides the first glimpse into Menendez's defense strategy.

The Menendez Legal Defense Fund has also paid $4,400 to Riley, Welch, LaPorte Associates, a Michigan-based laboratory specializing in handwriting analysis and other forensic examinations, for "document review."

Rosenbaum's previous experience as an expert witness includes the 2018 trial of Yoselyn Ortega, a nanny accused of murdering her two young charges, Alicia Krim, 6, and her brother Leo, 2, in their Upper West Side home in 2012. During the trial, Rosenbaum argued that Ortega, who had stabbed the children to death, was not accountable for her actions due to a state of psychosis. Despite Rosenbaum's testimony, Ortega was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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As of now, it remains unclear what Rosenbaum's role will be in Menendez's trial. Requests for comment from Robert Luskin, Menendez's lawyer, and Rosenbaum herself, have gone unanswered.

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As a sitting senator, Menendez is required under Congressional rules to disclose the funds he receives for his legal defense and how they are spent. The largest expenditure from his legal defense fund, according to the filing, was $100,000 paid to the Washington, DC law firm Jones Day for "legal services" in February. Jones Day partner Yaakov Roth, who has represented defendants in high-profile cases such as the "Bridgegate" case and the fraud conviction of Joseph Percoco, an aide to former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, has been added to Menendez's legal team.

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The Menendez Legal Defense Fund reported an intake of $188,925 between January and March, with $172,555 paid out to political consultants and lawyers. Among the top contributors to the fund was Dennis Mehiel, a Westchester-based businessman and Democratic donor, who donated $10,000 in January.

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Last year, Menendez, 70, was charged alongside his wife Nadine Arslanian, 57, and three co-defendants, with accepting hundreds of thousands in cash and gold bars in exchange for political favors. They were also charged with conspiracy to act as a foreign agent for Egypt and Qatar. While one of the co-defendants has pleaded guilty, the remaining four, including Menendez, vehemently deny the charges. Menendez maintains that the gold bars belonged to his wife's late mother.

Arslanian will be tried separately from her husband, citing a "serious medical condition" that requires surgery within the next four to six weeks.

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