The businessman accused of bribing New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez with gold bars funneled tens of thousands of dollars to a mob figure’s family and gave a convicted Mafioso a “swank” free home and restaurant meals, an official report into corruption alleged.
Fred Daibes was accused in September of seeking favors from the indicted senator, including an attempt to interfere in another prosecution, in return for gold.
The bars were found when the FBI raided Menendez’s home in Englewood, NJ, discovering them and jackets stuffed with piles of cash which the senator claims he kept because he feared the government taking his assets.
Menendez, his wife Nadine Arslanian and Daibes deny all charges. Daibes, 66, has made no public comment except to enter not guilty pleas.
But the developer has already been the focus of a major probe, by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation, into corruption in his home town of Edgewater, NJ, which was published months before the indictment.
The report in May alleged that he had gained “outsized power” and funneled cash to Edgewater’s elected politicians in return for influence and contracts.
And it disclosed that Daibes wrote personal checks for more than $100,000 to “the son and daughter-in-law of a high-ranking Genovese organized crime family member who was a key operative in an illegal gambling ring in northern New Jersey in the 2000s” then pleaded the Fifth Amendment when asked about them.
Another Genovese associate lived rent-free in one of Daibes’ apartment buildings for 9 years, the report said. And when Daibes sold the building, he paid the man’s rent for another 4 years. He also dined free at Dabies’ restaurant, the report said.
Richard Fischetti, the mobster who got a free home, was also married to a town council member, Duane Fischetti, whose son was the Borough Attorney, the report revealed. Fischetti testified that the couple had lived separately for decades.
In a letter from his attorney to the commission Daibes denied corruption, and said that the Genovese-linked criminal who got free accommodation was a friend both in need of a second chance in life after serving his time and estranged from his politician wife.
Fischetti, now 84, had been convicted of extortion in the 1980s, contempt in the 1990s then, according to the commission, became a “significant gambling operative” in the 2000s.
The developer’s attorney claimed Daibes was “charitable by nature” and that the personal checks to the son and daughter-in-law of another, unnamed, Genovese figure, was to help them start a driving school.
The extraordinary probe’s results were published in a 34-page report called “Public Matters, Private Interests: An Inquiry into Local Government Ethics and integrity Issues in the Borough of Edgewater.”
It carried a lengthy response from Daibes. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment from The Post.
The report said that Daibes, a multi-millionaire and enthusiastic collector of classic cars, had amassed power and influence “so strong he even held sway in local political decisions and other municipal concerns.”
One former mayor told the commission that Daibes had “control over the town for a long time.”
Daibes was born in Lebanon in 1957, the child of displaced Palestinians and spent a chunk of his childhood in a refugee camp in the country before his family immigrated to New Jersey in 1965, where his father Assad set up an eponymous masonry company.
When Daibes was 28 he took over the business, transforming it into Daibes Enterprises, a sprawling group of companies that specializes in both residential apartment complexes and corporate offices.
The commission said that Daibes, “a politically savvy businessman,” almost single-handedly transformed Edgewater, on the Hudson River, into a luxury enclave for Manhattan commuters, building riverfront high-rises with ornate finishes and marble lobbies and with names like The Alexander, The Duchess and The Saint Moritz — where the Genovese associate got a free home — over the last two decades.
But he did so by rewarding local officials who did his bidding, and punishing others who stood in his way, the report alleged. Along the way he paid his construction company’s workers in cash for 18 months,
“Some of the government actions taken in Edgewater to benefit Daibes would come at a high cost for local taxpayers, public coffers and the community’s reputation,” the report said.
Among its findings: Daibes had given one mayor, Michael McPartland, a below-market rent apartment in one of his luxury buildings just after taking office in 2015, while another mayor who tried to sue him testified that he was the subject of reprisals.
Daibes denied wrongdoing in both cases. McPartland said the commission had not taken his view of the garbage into account in concluding he was paying below market rate.
The report also focuses on how Daibes’ firm, Waterside Construction, won a $7.1m contract in June 2012 to clean up Veterans Field, a 27-acre waterfront park which had been closed since the previous year because of environmental contamination — and ended up costing the town almost $30m for botching it.
At first, another contractor let him take clean fill material from another construction site, but the report alleges that once that source dried up, Daibes’ firm used contaminated fill instead, making the site more toxic that it was. Daibes said the fill his firm used was certified clean and there is still litigation over the issue.
And when then-mayor James Delaney, who had at first backed Daibes on the park project, moved to sue, the mayor’s wife Bridget was fired from her job of 14 years at a restaurant owned by the developer.
“She told Commission counsel under oath that her family, including the couple’s children, became outcasts in the community,” according to the report. Daibes’ attorney said she had quit and there was no revenge plot.
The costs to clean up the mess topped $28 million plus more than $1.1 million in legal fees, and “local property taxes increased due to costs associated with the field fiasco,” according to the report.
As well as being indicted in the Menendez case, Daibes was indicted in 2018 on charges of bank fraud.
Prosecutors claim he was trying to get Menendez to help him in that case when he gave the senator gold bars.
Daibes then took a deal, pleading guilty to one count of fraud, but last month a federal judge threw the deal out, putting him on track for a trial in that case too. He has not entered any new plea on the charges.
Menendez and his wife are also accused of taking cash and a luxury car for acting as unregistered foreign agents of Egypt and helping two other men, Wael “Will” Hana and Jose Uribe which they deny. The two men also deny all charges.
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