NJ Sen. Bob Menendez, who’s on trial in bribery case, says his wife Nadine has breast cancer

NEW YORK — Sen. Bob Menendez’s wife Nadine, who’s a key player in the alleged bribery scheme he’s on trial for in Manhattan, has been diagnosed with breast cancer, according to a statement from the senator.

The statement, which Menendez sent out Thursday, came as the powerful 70-year-old N.J. Democrat faces a Manhattan Federal Court jury, accused of accepting bribes from N.J. businessmen through his wife in exchange for using his influence to benefit Egypt and Qatar and to interfere with criminal investigations.

“As a result of constant press inquiries and reporters following my wife, she has asked me to disclose her medical condition, Nadine is suffering from Grade 3 breast cancer, which will require her to have mastectomy surgery,” Menendez said, according to published reports.

“We are of course, concerned about the seriousness and advanced stage of the disease. She will require follow up surgery and possibly radiation treatment. We hope and pray for the best results. We ask the press and the public to give her the time, space and privacy to deal with this challenging health condition as she undergoes surgery and recovery.”

Nadine Menendez, 58, who also faces federal charges, had her case severed from her husband’s for health-related reasons. She’s slated to go on trial in July.

Menendez’s defense team contends that the gold bars found in his house — which prosecutors say were given to him as bribes — were actually gifts to Nadine from N.J. businessmen she had a close friendship with, and that he didn’t have anything to do with them.