In 2020, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) met with Philip Sellinger, a private practice lawyer and former fundraiser for the senator, to assess his potential fit as the next U.S. Attorney in New Jersey and to discuss one case in particular. Menendez, federal prosecutors say, was fixated on ensuring the future prosecutor would act sympathetically toward a friend of his facing bank fraud charges, real estate developer Fred Daibes. Daibes is a a key figure in a bribery case brought against Menendez, his wife and other associates. It accuses Menendez and his wife of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cash, gold bars and a luxury car in exchange for a range of favors, including secretly aiding the government of Egypt on U.S. policy matters and interfering in three criminal investigations, including the one involving Daibes, the Associated Press reports.
The indictment said Daibes paid bribes, including envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash and gold bars worth more than $120,000. Menendez has denied wrongdoing, blaming the prosecution on “forces behind the scenes” who “cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator.” An attorney for Daibes, Tim Donohue, said his client would be “completely exonerated of all charges.” Daibes and Menendez both rose to prominence as power players in the same stretch of urban communities across the Hudson River from Manhattan, where local politics and real estate have long involved favor-trading.