What to Know
- At least four gold bars found in the FBI search of Sen. Robert Menendez’s home had been directly linked to a New Jersey businessman now accused of bribing the state’s senior senator, records show
- The businessman, Fred Daibes, reported to police he was the victim of an armed robbery in 2013, and he asked police recover the 22 gold bars stolen from him
- A decade later, the FBI said it found four gold bars with unique serial numbers in the Clifton home of Menendez and his wife Nadine
At least four gold bars found in the FBI search of Sen. Robert Menendez’s home had been directly linked to a New Jersey businessman now accused of bribing the state’s senior senator, Bergen County prosecutor records from a 2013 robbery case show.
The businessman, Fred Daibes, reported to police he was the victim of an armed robbery in 2013, and he asked police to recover the gold bars stolen from him. In the 2013 robbery, Daibes reported $500,000 in cash and 22 gold bars were stolen, Edgewater police records show. Police later caught four suspects with the stolen goods.
To get his property back, Daibes signed “property release forms” certifying the gold bars belonged to him, the records show.
“Each gold bar has its own serial number,” Daibes said to investigators in a 2014 transcript made by prosecutors and police who recovered — and returned to Daibes — the stolen valuables. “They’re all stamped…you’ll never see two stamped the same way.”
A decade later, the FBI said it found four gold bars with unique serial numbers in the Clifton home of Menendez and his wife Nadine.
In the 2023 bribery indictment against the Democratic senator and Daibes, prosecutors included photos of some of the alleged bribes found in Menendez’s home, including four gold bars. The serial numbers of the four gold bars in the bribery indictment appear to be an exact match to four of the gold bars Daibes certified as stolen and returned to him in the 2013 robbery case.
For example, a Swiss Bank Corporation gold bar with serial number 590005 that the FBI said it seized from the senator’s home in a 2023 search was also reported stolen by Daibes — and returned to him — a decade earlier. Daibes’ signature and initials appear on the evidence log which included each specific gold bars with corresponding serial number.
“All of this spells bad news for Senator Menendez because the chain of custody – it appears – is going to be really easy to prove up,” said NBC legal analyst Danny Cevallas.
The New Jersey senator faced a judge in Manhattan for a new criminal charge. News 4’s Jonathan Dienst reports.
It was November 2013 when Daibes told police he was the victim of a gunpoint robbery in his penthouse apartment in Edgewater. The millionaire developer said he was tied to a chair as the thieves made off with cash, gold and jewelry.
The four suspects were quickly caught and later pleaded guilty. Daibes attended court proceedings as the victim. On Dec. 13, 2013, Daibes signed documents to get his property back including the gold bars.
Cevellas said if Daibes in fact gave gold bars to Robert and Nadine Menendez, that alone does not prove the crime of bribery.
“Was there a quid pro quo? Was it in exchange for the senator’s official acts – or promises of the same,” Cevallos said.
The FBI said the quid pro quo between Menendez and Daibes included efforts by the senator to influence the New Jersey US Attorney’s office which in 2018 was investigating Daibes for a separate crime of bank fraud.
Daibes and Menendez along with other co-defendants Nadine Menendez, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe all deny any wrongdoing and have pleaded not guilty.
“The allegations against me are just that – allegations,” Menendez said at a news conference after the bribery indictment was unsealed. In a statement regarding the gold bars found at his home being tied to a decade-old robbery, counsel for Menendez said he “will not be commenting on anonymous media leaks designed to prejudice his right to a fair trial. He looks forward to addressing the government’s claims in court, based on a complete record of the evidence.”
Sen. Bob Menendez is accusing the Justice Department of hunting him like prey in new public comments. News 4’s Jonathan Dienst reports.
The Democrat has denied taking payoffs from Daibes even though prosecutors allege testing shows Daibes’ fingerprints and DNA are on some of the tens of thousands in cash found Menendez’s home.
“For 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands in cash from my personal savings account which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba,” the senator said.
Menendez and his wife are also accused of taking payoffs from businessman Wael Hana, the FBI said. In exchange, investigators said the senator allegedly used his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to help Hana win an exclusive Halal meat inspection contract with the Egyptian government. They also said in exchange for bribes, the senator tried to assist the government of Egypt with arms sales.
Prosecutors said Menendez also accepted a Mercedes and other payoffs from Jose Uribe. In exchange, prosecutors said Menendez offered to try to help Uribe with an ongoing State Attorney General investigation.
As for Daibes’ separate bank fraud case, a New Jersey federal judge threw out a plea deal where Daibes pleaded guilty to one count and faced a sentence of probation after the new bribery charges came to light.
An attorney for Daibes said he is confident his client “will be exonerated when all the evidence is heard.”
New Jersey’s senior senator allegedly wanted to pressure two people who were vying to become the state’s U.S. Attorney, and another at the time was the state’s top law enforcement official, according to law enforcement sources. NBC New York’s Jonathan Dienst reports.