A stash of solid-gold bars found at the home of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) during a raid by the FBI earlier this year have been linked to a robbery that occurred in 2013, according to local court records uncovered by NBC News.
Documents filed at the time by Bergen County prosecutors allege the gold bars were stolen during an armed robbery of Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate businessman, at his penthouse apartment in Edgewater. Daibes reported that 22 gold bars and $500,000 in cash were taken from him, and he signed documents certifying the bars belonged to him and could be identified by unique serial numbers.
“Each gold bar has its own serial number,” Daibes told investigators. “They’re all stamped…you’ll never see two stamped the same way.”
Four individuals were ultimately arrested for the crime, and a decade later the gold bars surfaced at the home of Menendez and his wife who have both been charged with taking bribes in exchange for using the senator’s leverage in Washington to reward friends and campaign donors.
One of the bars, produced by Swiss Bank Corp. with the serial number 590005, was returned to Daibes following guilty pleas from the four perpetrators. How they ended up at the home of Senator Menendez remains a mystery, but the criminal changing of hands adds to the evidence against him.
“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,” NBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos said.
In September, Sen. Menendez was hit with federal charges for orchestrating a “corrupt bribery agreement” to enrich three donors — Daibes, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe — by pressuring the government of Egypt to accept their business. Menendez held significant influence at the time as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is also charged with using his influence to help Daibes escape charges in a bank fraud case.
A raid of his New Jersey home produced 13 gold bars and over $500,000 in cash stuffed away in closets and sock drawers. If convicted, the Democrat faces up to 45 years in prison.
Despite calls for resignation from his Democratic Senate colleagues, Sen. Menendez has insisted he is innocent and blamed his stash of gold on his upbringing in communist Cuba, saying he and his wife, Nadine, must be prepared with a stash of valuables at all time in case the proverbial you-know-what hits the fan.