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Tareq Salahi’s $325,000 Patek watch (if it’s not bootleg) seized to satisfy $2,000 debt
By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report
Warren County’s most famous socialite couple was in Front Royal on Friday morning for an event not likely to be found penciled in on their social calendar.
Rather than a state dinner for a foreign dignitary, on Dec. 4 White House State Dinner party crashers Tareq and Micheale Salahi were invited guests for the 9 a.m. docket of Warren County General District Court. The couple faced legal interviews over non-payment of a year-old, $925 judgment against them for lawn care services at their Overlook Drive home in the Mosby Estates subdivision near Linden, in eastern Warren County. The couple’s total debt to A1A Home Improvement and Lawn Care Service is actually around $2,000, including plaintiff legal fees, court costs and interest.
Plaintiff attorney J. Daniel Pond III interviewed the Salahis separately outside the first-floor courtroom in second-floor conference rooms in the presence of their attorney, David Silek. Pond spent 45 minutes with Tareq, then another 20 minutes with Michaele Salahi before returning to the courtroom at 10:20 a.m.
Pond then requested Judge W. Dale Houff to allow the seizure of personal property from the Salahis to satisfy the debt. With the ever fashionable Mrs. Salahi dressed down somewhat from her Nov. 24th White House appearance in what might be termed “destitute chic” – sans even her wedding ring – Pond looked to Tareq Salahi for the requested property seizure.
If not the shirt off his back, Pond asked the court take the watch off Tareq Salahi’s wrist for resale to satisfy his client’s unpaid judgment.
Silek noted his client had informed him the value of the watch was considerably more than his debt in the matter.
However, Houff allowed the watch to be taken into the custody of the court clerk’s office and instructed the attorneys to work out a method of sale and payment. Any excess proceeds from a sale, whether made by the Salahis or the plaintiff would be reimbursed to the Salahis, Pond later explained.
As he left the courthouse, Silek was asked if his client’s watch was a Rolex. – “It makes a Rolex look like a Swatch,” the attorney replied.
Court Clerk Rhonda McDaniel later identified the watch as a “Patek, Phillipe Geneve.” A quick Internet search of the brand by staff at WZRV, 95.3 FM, prior to this reporter and publisher Dan McDermott’s News at Noon appearance to discuss the Salahis’ day in court led to this appraisal – “the cheapest ones start at $325,000.”
However, prior to any sale by either party, court or Warren County Sheriff’s Office personnel will first verify the watch’s authenticity and value.
Following the court ruling, the Salahis, who remained upstairs during the court discussion of the property seizure, left the courthouse to a flurry of local and D.C.-based national media attention. They walked about a half block to the nearby East Main Street law office of John J. O’Neill, utilized locally by the Manassas-based Silek, without response to a flurry of questions hurled their way by FOX 5 DC news reporter Claudia Coffey. Among those questions were, would the couple be appearing on Saturday Night Live this weekend? Did they feel they owed apologies to either the White House staff or the Washington Redskins cheerleaders over their conflicting claims of a White House State Dinner invite or Michaele’s disputed claim of having once been on the Redskins’ cheer squad?
Earlier upstairs in the courtroom, Salahi smiled but said nothing when asked about a pending SNL appearance.
While they were sequestered in the O’Neill law office, media covering the backdoor discovered the Salahis’ Audi parked with not only its temporary tags, but an expired inspection sticker as well. When Front Royal Police Motorcycle Patrol Officer Donald Oyre pulled into the Front Royal Town Parking Lot to view the media hubbub, some standers by mentioned the November ’09 inspection sticker, leading to Oyre’s ticketing of the vehicle after a quick check with headquarters.
At about 11:30 a.m. the Salahi’s exited the law office escorted by FRPD Officer J.R. Dove. Asked if he planned to pay the expired inspection ticket, Tareq Salahi said, “Oh no,” and reached out from the driver’s seat and removed it from his windshield before driving off with his wife.
The Dec. 4 non-payment case may be only the tip of sinking financial iceberg for the Salahis – unless of course a rumored six-figure price being sought for their “inside story” gets picked up by a tabloid media source. A debt to Winchester Electric has also been cited in recent media reports; and while in the Warren County Courthouse on Dec. 4, we were approached by both an attorney and individual claiming recent non-payment cases or experiences with the Salahis. The couple’s financial problems could also suffer from the Dec. 2 announcement that the Commonwealth of Virginia has opened an investigation of the finances of Salahi’s non-profit polo association.
During a break in his clients’ interrogatories, Silek declined to respond to questions about how he was being paid for his legal services to the couple, whom he said he has represented off and on since 2002. –
“Are you being paid by Bravo or NBC?” Silek was asked.
“If I had an answer for that I wouldn’t answer it – it’s a totally inappropriate question,” Silek replied.
Roger Bianchini: firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen to a discussion of this story on DC 101.