Four gold bars discovered by federal authorities at embattled Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) residence in 2022 have serial numbers tied to a 2013 armed robbery of Fred Daibes, one of the men accused of bribing Menendez, according to a report.
“All of this spells bad news for Sen. Menendez because the chain of custody — it appears — is going to be really easy to prove up,” stated NBC Legal Analyst Danny Cavellos.
Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, were accused in September of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes” from three New Jersey businessmen — Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Daibes — “in exchange for his influence and power as a Senator to seek to protect and enrich” them, according to the federal indictment.
Part of an alleged quid pro quo laid out in the indictment contends that Menendez “agreed to attempt to influence and attempted to influence the pending federal prosecution of” Daibes in New Jersey in exchange for “cash, furniture, and gold bars” between December 2020 and early 2022.
Citing prosecutorial records out of Bergen County from 2013, NBC News reports that some gold bars recovered from Menendez’s residence look to be linked to a decade-old robbery of Daibes in Edgewater, New Jersey. Daibes told authorities at the time assailants took 22 gold bars and $500,000 in cash from him:
It was November 2013 when Daibes, a millionaire developer, told police that he had been the victim of a gunpoint robbery in his penthouse apartment in Edgewater. He 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.
Four bars from the Menendez residence appeared to bear identical serial numbers to bars at the center of the 2013 Daibes robbery, according to NBC News.
During federal authorities’ June 2022 search of the Menendezs’ home, they located $480,000 in cash along with gold bars, as well as a Mercedes Benz allegedly provided by Uribe in exchange for Menendez’s alleged help in interfering in a New Jersey criminal investigation into a Uribe associate, according to the indictment.
Some of the money was recovered from embroidered jackets reading “Robert Menendez” and “Senator Menendez,” the court filing notes.
Menendez has denied the allegations, calling them “baseless” in his initial statement following the charges. At a subsequent press conference, Menendez claimed he had withdrawn “thousands of dollars in cash” over decades in case of “emergencies.”
“For 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars 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,” he said.
“Now, this may seem old-fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings account, based on the income that I have lawfully derived over those 30 years,” he contended.
Bob Menendez and Nadine Menendez are each charged with Conspiracy to Commit Bribery, Conspiracy to Commit Honest Service Fraud, and Conspiracy to Commit Extortion Under Color of Official Right.
Menendez was previously indicted on corruption charges in 2015. That case resulted in a mistrial.
The case is the United States of America v. Menendez, No. 23 CRIM 490, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.