Evidence against New Jersey senator appeared “really easy to prove” after gold bars in bribery case traced back to decade-old violent robbery.
(Video: NBC News)
Little more than two months after New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D), 69, and his wife Nadine were indicted for bribery offenses connected to the Egyptian government, an investigation from NBC New York added clarity to the evidence lifetime politician.
“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,” WNBC reported Monday.
Fred Daibes, a New Jersey businessman named in the indictment along with Wael Hana and Jose Uribe, had reported robbers making off with $500,000 in cash as well as 22 gold bars, Edgewater police records had indicated. The stolen property was later recovered with the four suspects when law enforcement located them.
In order to reclaim possession of the goods, the businessman was required to sign “property release forms” that certified they belonged to him, and a 2014 transcript of remarks to investigators recorded Daibes stating, “Each gold bar has its own serial number.
“They’re all stamped…you’ll never see two stamped the same way,” he added.
The police records also further implicated Hana as the September indictment stated Daibes had sold the other businessman 22 gold bars, the same number reported stolen in 2013. Furthermore, Department of Justice photos showed gold recovered at Menendez’s home with the serial number “590005” matching one of the bars taken a decade earlier.
“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 Cevallos.
As previously reported, after hiring Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell, the New Jersey senator adamantly denied the charges that were brought against him asserting that he had used his position to the benefit of the government of Egypt in exchange for cash, gold and other valuables.
During a September press conference after the indictment had been unsealed, Menendez said, “The allegations leveled against me are just that, allegations. For anyone who has known me throughout my 50 years of public service, they know I have always fought for what is right. My advocacy has always been grounded. And what I learned from growing up as the son of Cuban refugees, especially my mom, my hero, Evangelina Menendez. Everything I accomplished, I worked for despite the nay-sayers and everyone who has underestimated me.”
“I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated,” he continued, “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.”
Meanwhile, a significant number of Democratic figures have called for Menendez to resign, including New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) whose wife Tammy Murphy entered the race to replace the incumbent in the senate.