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Judge denies Menendez bid to toss searches in bribery case

New Jersey Democrat had sought to suppress evidence discovered from home, digital accounts

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is seen after the Senate luncheons in the Capitol last month.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is seen after the Senate luncheons in the Capitol last month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A federal judge on Monday denied a request from Sen. Bob Menendez to throw out evidence in his criminal bribery case and to hold a hearing to determine whether the government’s search warrant applications were done properly.

The New Jersey Democrat had challenged five search warrants and argued that the government repeatedly violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

He called efforts to search his cellphone, email and iCloud overbroad and said warrants to search his home — which turned up over $480,000 in cash and gold bars used to accuse him of accepting bribes — as full of crucial misrepresentations and omissions.

Judge Sidney H. Stein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York disagreed in an opinion, which found that Menendez and a co-defendant did not adequately show that the warrants had material misrepresentations or omissions that were deliberately or recklessly misleading.

The judge also said that the warrants were not so broad that they violate Menendez’s Fourth Amendment rights.

The warrants “clearly list the relevant criminal statutes and include a detailed list of the individuals, entities, and conduct under investigation,” Stein wrote.

“The fact that the search may have captured a large quantity of communications reflects the breadth of the alleged conduct supported by probable cause; not that the warrant is unconstitutionally overbroad,” Stein wrote.

Prosecutors say the senator acted on behalf of the Egyptian and Qatari governments in exchange for gifts and money and are pursuing Menendez on four federal criminal charges: conspiracy for a public official to act as a foreign agent, conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and bribery.

A spokesperson for Menendez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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