Real estate developer involved in Menendez indictment was subject of 2019 KIYC investigation
One of the people at the center of the criminal indictment handed down against Sen. Robert Menendez was the subject of a Kane In Your Corner investigation. And this isn’t the first time New Jersey real estate developer Fred Daibes has been accused of trying to buy influence with politicians.
In 2019, Kane In Your Corner investigated how the town of Edgewater was trying to seize a waterfront lot owned by one of Daibes’ business rivals. The owners’ attorney contended the town’s actions were political payback to Daibes in exchange for favors he’d provided to the mayor and council. Court documents alleged Edgewater’s mayor was receiving a luxury apartment in one of Daibes’ properties, first for free and later at a reduced cost. The allegation was later confirmed by the New Jersey state Commission of Investigation in May.
Now, Daibes is front and center in the bribery and corruption case against Menendez. He and two other businessmen, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe, are accused by federal prosecutors of bribing Menendez and his wife with gold bars and cash worth as much as $400,000.
Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the indictment Friday morning. “The indictment alleges that Hana, Uribe and Daibes provided bribes in the form of cash, gold, home mortgage payments, a low show or a no-show job for Nadine Menendez, a Mercedes Benz and other things of value to the senator and his wife,” Williams said.
Daibes pleaded guilty last year to federal banking charges, but his sentencing has been delayed four times, leading to speculation he might cooperate in the case against Menendez.
“When somebody has been convicted and now suddenly you see their sentencing delayed, they’re usually trading for something,” says attorney John Wisniewski, a former New Jersey assemblyman and former chair of the New Jersey Democratic Committee. “They’re usually saying if I help you with this, maybe you can shave some time off.”
Wisniewski says the photos of cash and gold bars don’t look good for the senator, but says prosecutors still have a lot to prove.
“If somebody is giving something to an office holder and that office holder has some ability to influence policy that impacts the donor, then it becomes a quid pro quo,” Wisniewski says. “And that’s going to be the job, in this case, is to establish that these gifts were given for this action.”
Menendez has denied any wrongdoing. The senator said he has been falsely accused of accepting bribes and “will not be distracted” from work in the Senate.