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Attorneys for Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., allege in a court filing the FBI "misled" judges to obtain search warrants that led to hundreds of thousands of dollars, a luxury car and gold bars being seized from Menendez's home after agents "ransacked" it.
FBI agents "broke down doors (even, in some cases, where the doors were unlocked) and tore apart closets, wardrobes, dressers and other storage locations," the lawyers wrote.
Additionally, FBI agents seized "virtually anything of value," including almost half a million dollars in cash and 13 gold bars. Menendez's lawyers claimed prosecutors "actively distorted the evidence" that was revealed through "exploratory rummaging."
"To obtain several of these search warrants, the government actively distorted the evidence and withheld key exculpatory information, misleading well-meaning magistrate judges into granting warrants that should never have issued," Menendez's lawyers wrote.
Prosecutors conducted a thorough and lengthy investigation into Menendez, obtaining over 20 search warrants related to alleged co-conspirators.
"Nevertheless, none of the 'evidence' obtained from these search warrants of alleged co-conspirators remotely tied Senator Menendez to knowing involvement in any alleged bribery scheme," his lawyers wrote.
Most of the specific claims pertaining to allegations that prosecutors "misled" judges to obtain search warrants were redacted in the 34-page court filing.
According to the latest superseding indictment unsealed this month, Menendez is accused of accepting bribes and gifts in exchange for helping to benefit Qatar as part of a corruption scheme from 2021 through 2023, one year longer than originally thought, the Justice Department said.
Menendez is already facing federal charges for allegedly acting as a foreign agent and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to benefit the Egyptian government through his power and influence as a senator.
The New Jersey Democrat has repeatedly asserted his innocence and claimed "there is no evidence" of the gifts and payments he allegedly received as a suspected foreign agent.
Menendez, along with his wife Nadine and three other New Jersey businessmen — Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes — were first charged in the federal bribery scheme Sept. 23. All have pleaded not guilty.
FBI and IRS criminal investigators allege Menendez and his wife accepted several gold bars and other gifts from Daibes, a New Jersey developer and former bank chairman accused of banking crimes. Menendez allegedly worked to help appoint a prosecutor who would be sympathetic to Daibes, according to the indictment.