Gold bars found in the search of the home of Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey in September have been documented as the property of a Menendez co-defendant that was stolen during a 2023 armed robbery then recovered, according to news reports.
The documentation provides a direct link between the gold, Menendez and a man accused of bribing him, an NBC legal analyst said.
Menendez was indicted in September on bribery charges. A superseding indictment additionally charged Menendez with being an agent of Egypt.
The indictments claim that New Jersey businessman Fred Daibes was involved in giving Menendez gifts in return for Menendez providing protection for Daibes from prosecution.
According to WNBC-TV, at least four of the gold bars found in the FBI’s search have been documented as having been stolen from Daibes in the 2013 robbery, then returned to him by investigators.
At the time of the robbery, Daibes had supplied police with serial numbers for 22 gold bars he said were stolen in the crime. Four people were eventually arrested.
“Each gold bar has its own serial number,” Daibes told investigators, according to NBC. “They’re all stamped … You’ll never see two stamped the same way.”
Police said that after the arrests, all the gold bars Daibes said were stolen were returned to him.
According to NBC, serial numbers of at least four gold bars that are listed in the bribery indictment appear to be identical to gold bars cited in the robbery.
“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.
Cevallos said if Daibes gave the gold bar to Menendez and his wife, Nadine, who was indicted with him, it does not prove bribery, but raises questions.
“Was there a quid pro quo? Was it in exchange for the senator’s official acts — or promises of the same?” Cevallos said.
The superseding indictment against Menendez and his wife, which was released in October, claimed the couple worked with Daibes and two other men to “accept hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for using Menendez’s power and influence as a Senator to seek to protect and enrich” the three men “and to benefit the Arab Republic of Egypt.”
“Those bribes included cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value,” the indictment stated.
The indictment claimed the senator undertook “a series of official acts and breaches of official duty in exchange for bribes.”
The indictment included images of two gold bars it claimed were provided to Menendez by Daibes.
The indictment said that the senator “agreed to attempt to influence and attempted to influence the pending federal prosecution of Fred Daibes” who was facing federal charges, “in exchange for cash, furniture, and gold bars that Daibes provided to Menendez and Nadine Menendez.”
Menendez sought to influence the prosecution by “recommending that the President nominate a candidate for U.S Attorney for the District of New Jersey who Menendez believed could be influenced by Menendez concerning Daibes’s case, and by attempting to influence the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey to act favorably in Daibes’s case.”
Menendez, along with the other defendants, has denied the allegations.
In relation to the news about the gold bars’ serial numbers, a statement from Menendez’s office said the senator “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.”
“I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator. The court of public opinion is no substitute for our revered justice system. We cannot set aside the presumption of innocence for political expediency when the harm is irrevocable,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.