A Virginia judge has kicked a George Soros-funded prosecutor off a case involving potentially a dozen burglaries in multiple counties, saying the prosecutor's office had concealed criminal records to "sell" a plea bargain.
Loudoun County circuit court judge James Plowman said the office of Commonwealth's Attorney Buta Biberaj (D.) was "deliberately misleading the Court and the public" about "a possible 12 burglary crime spree spanning 4 counties over 10 days." In a plea agreement, Biberaj's office failed to note the offender had recently pleaded guilty to felonies and had pending charges and prior convictions as a minor, according to Plowman. Fox 5 on Saturday first reported on the judge's order to remove Biberaj from the case.
"The Commonwealth is deliberately misleading the Court, and the public, in an effort to ‘sell’ the plea agreement for some reason that has yet to be explained," Plowman wrote in his order.
The unprecedented move highlights the lengths to which so-called justice reform prosecutors will go to reduce bail, lighten sentencing, and avoid felony convictions—as well as the growing backlash to their approach. The Washington Free Beacon reported how other Soros-funded prosecutors in Virginia such as Arlington County commonwealth's attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti (D.) and Fairfax County commonwealth's attorney Steve Descano (D.) dismissed or declined to prosecute a serial looter on nearly a dozen charges related to larceny.
The soft-on-crime approach can sometimes prove deadly. Descano's office last year refused to bring felony charges against a man who attempted to abduct and rape a hotel housekeeper, preferring to plead him out on misdemeanors of assault and battery. Less than a year later, the same man was charged with killing two homeless men and wounding three others during a nine-day shooting spree that spanned New York City and Washington, D.C. Biberaj in 2021 released a man charged with domestic violence on a $5,000 bond. He was charged two months later for brutally murdering his wife with a hammer.
Concern with the Soros prosecutors' handling of crime has generated two recall efforts. One of the groups leading the charge, Virginians for Safe Communities, is hoping to get thousands of signatures from voters to spark a special election. Biberaj dismissed the recalls in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday, referring to her opponents as "outside special interests."
Soros contributed more than $860,000 to Biberaj through his Justice and Public Safety PAC in 2019, helping her win by a 2-point margin, though she had no prosecutorial experience. The Democratic megadonor similarly boosted Descano and Dehghani-Tafti, donating six-figure sums to each of their campaigns.
Biberaj's office charged the burglar, Kevin Enrique Valle, with two felonies in Loudoun last year but, according to Plowman, Valle had also been arrested for burglaries in three other Virginia counties in May 2021—one of which occurred the same day as the Loudoun burglary. Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Michele Burton had not noted the other burglaries in the plea agreement. Plowman called the plea deal "an overt misrepresentation by omission."
"The explanation highlights a lack of knowledge of the facts of the case or the ability to apply basic legal principals," Plowman wrote in his order. "Biberaj and the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is hereby REMOVED AND DISQUALIFIED from further prosecution as counsel of record in this matter." He has authorized the Fauquier County commonwealth’s attorney’s office to take up the case.
Descano's office in a court hearing on Monday chose not to prosecute Valle on one of his three burglary charges in Fairfax County from last year.
By her own standards, Biberaj has not always been consistent in her sentencing. Last year, she sought jail time for a man who was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at a school board meeting. The man had been protesting a sexual assault case involving his daughter, who was raped in a public school bathroom.
Update 5:47 p.m.: This piece has been updated to reflect recent court filings.