A Manhattan federal judge on Monday said Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who faces charges of wide-ranging corruption, will stand trial on May 6 next year, along with his wife and three businessmen who were indicted with him.
The date would place the trial just one month before the June 4 New Jersey state primary and raises the specter, if Mr. Menendez runs for re-election, of voters going to the polls while he is on trial, without knowing what verdict, if any, the jury might return.
In court on Monday, a prosecutor said the government expected the trial to last four to six weeks, assuming all five defendants were still part of the case.
Mr. Menendez, a Democrat who has stepped down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had been preparing to run for re-election but has not indicated whether, in the face of bribery charges, he still intended to seek a fourth full term.. If he were to pursuehis party’s nomination, he would almost certainly face a crowded field of opponents.
Mr. Menendez, 69, has called the claims against him false and said he will be cleared of any wrongdoing. He has also rejected pressure from many fellow Democrats who are urging him to resign from the Senate.
The judge, Sidney H. Stein of Federal District Court, made it clear Monday that he wanted the government and the defense to prepare their cases expeditiously in order “to effectuate the defendants’ speedy trial rights.”
Mr. Menendez, his wife, Nadine Menendez, 56, and the three businessmen were accused in what prosecutors described as a scheme to use the senator’s influence to increase U.S. aid and military sales to Egypt in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars, bars of gold bullion and a Mercedes-Benz convertible.
One of the businessmen, Wael Hana, an American citizen born in Egypt, and Ms. Menendez “worked to introduce Egyptian intelligence and military officials to Menendez for the purpose of establishing and solidifying a corrupt agreement,” the indictment said.
Mr. Menendez, his wife, Mr. Hana and the two other businessmen — Fred Daibes, a real estate developer, and Jose Uribe, who works in the trucking industry — have all pleaded not guilty.
On Monday, an assistant U.S. attorney, Paul M. Monteleoni, told Judge Stein that the documents and other materials the government will be producing to the defense — is “quite voluminous.”
“Our investigation was lengthy and extensive, and it’s ongoing,” Mr. Monteleoni said.
He also noted that the government may file a superseding or revised indictment but said such action would not materially affect the trial schedule. Prosecutors often file such indictments when they want to add new defendants or charges in a case — but Mr. Monteleoni did not elaborate on what such a new indictment might include in Mr. Menendez’s case.
Mr. Menendez was not in court on Monday. His lawyer, Seth C. Farber, wrote to the judge last week, noting that “because of the need for Senator Menendez to be present in Washington, D.C., on Monday for potential Senate votes and other Senate business, there is particular justification for excusing his personal appearance.”
Judge Stein granted the senator’s request but denied similar requests by Ms. Menendez and Mr. Hana.
Tracey Tully contributed reporting.