A Virginia prosecutor backed by progressive billionaire George Soros is facing heat over her handling of domestic violence cases after an accused wife-beater out on bond allegedly murdered his wife with a hammer.
Authorities will charge Peter Lollobrigido for the brutal murder of his wife Regina Redman-Lollobrigido, who died in a hospital Sunday following a Sept. 19 assault. Lollobrigido was arrested on domestic assault charges in July, but he was released a week later on just $5,000 bond. Local critics fear his quick release is a tragic example of Loudoun County commonwealth's attorney Buta Biberaj's (D.) defendant-friendly approach.
Biberaj is one of several progressive prosecutors elected in Northern Virginia in 2019. Her campaign was powered in significant part by a $659,000 in-kind donation from Soros's Justice and Public Safety PAC. She was elected in 2019 alongside Steve Descano in Fairfax County and Parisa Dehghani-Tafti in Arlington County, who also benefited from large contributions from the reclusive financier.
Consistent with her progressive approach, Biberaj has characterized domestic violence as a health problem that warrants a social, not criminal, response. Biberaj has rankled local Democrats, and the Lollobrigido case will likely boost a budding campaign to remove her from office. An advocacy group called Virginians for Safe Communities is leading that effort.
"This case and many more like it in Loudoun and across the country are stark reminders of the danger these rogue prosecutors like Buta Biberaj pose to victims and law-abiding citizens," Virginians for Safe Communities president Sean Kennedy told the Washington Free Beacon. "These radical activists are betraying the oath they swore to protect victims, guard the public safety, and enforce the law. Instead, they put criminals first, and victims last."
According to a law enforcement affidavit, Redman-Lollobrigido came to a Loudoun-area emergency room with assault-related injuries on July 22. The Loudoun County sheriff's office responded. At that time, she reported two domestic violence episodes to police, leading to Lollobrigido's arrest. He was charged with domestic assault, strangulation, and abduction and detained until his arraignment on July 29. He was released the following day.
Lollobrigido's $5,000 bond package in the July case was both small and unsecured. Defendants with unsecured bonds are not required to make a payment prior to release. Instead, they are liable for the full sum if they fail to appear in court or abide by other conditions.
Aside from bond, the court ordered Lollobrigido to stay away from his wife and submit to GPS monitoring so authorities could track his movements.
Redman-Lollobrigido's death punctuates a months-long conflict between Biberaj and the county board of supervisors. In March, the Democrat-controlled panel pressed Biberaj about the sudden drop in domestic violence prosecutions in the county. Data compiled by a county agency show the commonwealth's attorney dismissed almost 500 of 735 domestic violence charges pending in 2020.
Biberaj countered that many of those charges were duplicative and that authorities waste resources investigating incidents that don't involve serious injuries or risk of recurrence. Alternatives to criminal penalties such as counseling or agency referrals are often preferable in domestic violence cases, she added, which is consistent with her progressive prosecutorial approach.
"The wellbeing of our community ... warrants treating [domestic violence] as the health crisis it is. We can invest into it early, like preventative medicine, or we can wait for a tragedy to occur. [Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney] recommends the former," Biberaj said.
Speaking at a March budget session, board chair Phyllis Randall (D.) said shelters and county agency officials have privately expressed concern that the commonwealth's attorney isn't doing enough for victims of domestic violence.
"Since this office [Biberaj] came in, the number of victims, and I mean domestic violence victims, who have reached out to us has been bloodcurdling," said Randall, who was a substance abuse and mental health counselor prior to her time in government.
Board members also expressed concern over the high turnover rate in Biberaj's office at the March session. Supervisor Michael Turner (D.) said that 17 lawyers or support staff have left the prosecutor's office in the last 13 months, out of 39 total employees. Three of those 17 employees left having been with the commonwealth's attorney for less than six months.
Biberaj said the departures were a function of the pandemic and fundamental differences over the office's mission. She later conceded that only 4 of the 17 departures were related to the pandemic in a colloquy with vice chair Koran Saines (D.).
Though Biberaj faces plenty of criticism, the effort to recall her faces hurdles. Virginians for Safe Communities must collect signatures from 10 percent of voters who cast ballots in the last election, then convince a judge that Biberaj has misused her office or been incompetent in discharging her duties.
Biberaj's office did not reply to the Free Beacon's inquiries.