WP: El-Atari Donations to Sheriff Raise Eyebrows
Former Ashburn restaurateur owner gets early jail release one day before contribution.
UPDATE: LSCO disputes times served by El-Atari [update in italics.]
A story in the Washington Post today outlines campaign donations from former Ashburn restaurant owner Osama El-Atari to Loudoun County Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson. According to the story, El-Atari’s restaurant, the Original Steakhouse – now under new ownership and a new name – gave Simpson a $5,000 campaign check the day before El-Atari was released from a two-day jail sentence after serving a little more than one hour.
The incident occurred in 2007 when Simpson was up for reelection as he is this year. Simpson told the Post that there was no connection between the contribution and El-Atari's release.
El-Atari was later sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for an unrelated scheme in which he fraudulently obtained $71 million in loans from banks in Virginia and other states.
The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office contacted Patch to dispute the time served by El-Atari. Sheriff's spokesman Kraig Troxell explained that El-Atari was given credit for the night he spent in jail upon his arrest, leaving just one day to serve. Further, Troxell explained that the approximately one-hour of time served by El-Atari is not atypical of someone having one day to serve. Additional clarification may come tomorrow. Troxell spoke only about the time served, not about anything regarding campaign contributions.
El-Atari’s donations to Simpson previously became a topic of discussion on the local blog Too Conservative after the Loudoun Times-Mirror ran a story and editorial about $15,000 in donations El-Atari gave Simpson in 2008.