By Sean P. Morgan, Leesburg
As a lifelong Democrat, consistent voter in Democratic primaries, Loudoun County resident, and former Loudoun prosecutor, I read with abhorrence the June 10 opinion letter by Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj in the Washington Post, complaining that the “endless recalls in Virginia are pointless and must stop.”
Ms. Biberaj does not actually address the many reasons that members of the Loudoun County community seek to recall her. She simply throws out tired tropes like “right wing”, “political shenanigans”, and “political games” along with unsupported accusations of attempts to “intimidate” her and “usurp local power out from under me ….”
Ms. Biberaj airily pronounces (with absolutely no support) that the recall efforts are because her election has “left some outside special interests unhappy.” Indeed, it is Ms. Biberaj who knows how to make outside special interests happy. She accepted more than $860,000 in contributions for her 2019 election campaign from a single outside special interest, the Justice & Public Safety Political Action Committee based in Washington, DC, which is funded by the Soros Management Fund in New York City (more than 80 percent of her campaign budget). Ms. Biberaj has never explained how she was able to get all that money, nor any promises or agreements she made to obtain all that money.
Ms. Biberaj next complains of attempts to “undermine” her work. However, the Supreme Court of Virginia caseload statistics show her office is doing much less work. Criminal case filings and dispositions in Loudoun Courts have decreased under Ms. Biberaj by nearly 40 percent. This substantial decrease is not attributable to Ms. Biberaj’s assertion of an 11 percent decline in serious crime in 2020, as that claim is both inaccurate and wrong. Ms. Biberaj defines serious crime as only the crimes of rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Government data for 2019 and 2020 reflect a 6 percent decrease for Leesburg and Loudoun of reported incidents of rape, robbery, and aggravated assault from 2019 to 2020, only about half of Ms. Biberaj’s claimed reduction. More importantly, when homicides and burglaries are included, which most people would consider to be serious crimes, the crime rate was essentially unchanged from 2019 to 2020.
Despite this considerable reduction in prosecution, under Ms. Biberaj the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office budget has increased by nearly $2 million with over 10 new attorney positions. Ms, Biberaj has not, as she brags, “saved millions in taxpayer dollars; rather, she has cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Ms. Biberaj has perfected the art of doing less with more.
Ms. Biberaj’s boast of “increased protections for victims of domestic violence” is grotesque and appalling. Her office agreed to the release from jail of Peter Lollobrigido, who was awaiting hearing on charges for the strangulation, abduction, and domestic assault of his wife, Ms. Regina Redman- Lollobrigido. Ms. Biberaj’s office agreed to Mr. Lollobrigido’s release even though the pretrial office that would be responsible for his supervision while on bond, recommended that Mr. Lollobrigido remain in jail. Seven weeks after his release from jail on July 29, 2021, while on bond with the agreement of the Ms. Biberaj’s office, Mr. Lollobrigido is alleged to have brutally murdered his wife and was rearrested. Additionally, members of the Board of Supervisors have spoken at Board meetings about numerous complaints they have received from victims of domestic violence regarding Ms. Biberaj’s office’s treatment of them and prosecution of their cases. Ms. Phyllis Randall, chair of the Board of Supervisors has noted, “In fact, the things that I am hearing, the letters I have, the emails I have, the text message screenshots I have [from victims of domestic violence] would curl somebody’s toes to look at them.”
Ms. Biberaj’s real concern is her well-founded fear that she may be recalled from office similarly to former San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Prior to the recall vote in San Francisco, Ms. Biberaj was very active on social media supporting Mr. Boudin, whose policies she has emulated. Reasons cited by the citizens of San Francisco for the recall of Mr. Boudin included his incompetence and inexperience running a prosecutor’s office, as well as siding with criminals over victims — all endangering public safety. Likewise, Ms. Biberaj’s policies of significantly reducing prosecutions, releasing violent offenders on bond, and incompetence generally in the management of her office have made Loudoun less safe and demonstrated her unfitness to continue to serve as the Commonwealth’s Attorney. Loudoun residents will have the “safer, fairer justice system” mentioned by Ms. Biberaj when she is either recalled or returned to being a criminal defense lawyer in the next election cycle.
[Editor’s Note: Mr. Morgan served in the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office from 2005 to 2019 when he served as the chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney.]