A Virginia prosecutor backed by progressive billionaire George Soros tried to use his status as an elected official to avoid a courthouse security checkpoint, leading to a vulgar confrontation between Steve Descano and the security guards stationed on site.
The tense back-and-forth ensued when the Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney and a colleague asked private security officers if they could bypass a standard screening station when they entered the county courthouse on the morning of Sept. 28. They became agitated and vulgar when their request was denied, according to a Fairfax County sheriff’s office incident report obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
"Both attorneys demonstrated behavior unsuited for an officer of the court. Allied Security Officers experienced disrespect and unprofessionalism," a sheriff’s office supervisor wrote in the report.
Descano is one of several Soros-backed prosecutors whose defendant-focused enforcement practices are causing tension with local law enforcement and elected officials. In neighboring Loudoun County, Soros-backed commonwealth’s attorney Buta Biberaj is facing heat from fellow Democrats over her lenient approach to domestic abuse cases. In September, a Loudoun defendant out on a $5,000 bond for domestic assault was charged with murdering his wife with a hammer. Both Descano and Biberaj are facing recall efforts.
As relayed in the sheriff’s office report, Descano and his chief deputy Kyle Manikas arrived at the county courthouse just after 9:30 a.m. They asked two private security officers if they could skip the screening checkpoint. The officers replied the screening was mandatory for all attorneys, prompting Descano to throw his umbrella directly into the X-ray machine.
"Do I really need to go through security?" he asked according to the report.
A moment later, uniformed law enforcement passed through the checkpoint without screening. Descano asked why they were allowed to bypass the process, and an officer replied that uniformed law enforcement was exempt under a directive from the courthouse security committee.
"That’s bullshit. Don’t you know who I am?" Descano replied, according to the report.
Descano’s colleague Manikas was "visibly upset about being screened" and became particularly incensed when one of the screeners searched his bag because the X-ray machine indicated a knife was inside. The item in question was a butter knife inside a lunch bag.
"This is fucking bullshit," Manikas said repeatedly, according to the report.
A security camera video the courthouse shared with the sheriff’s office and which the Free Beacon reviewed corroborates the officers’ telling of events. Descano can be seen flaunting an identification badge and gesturing toward the officers at close range in an animated manner. The video does not depict the entirety of the encounter.
The private security officers acted in accordance with a courthouse policy that required screenings for all comers, save law enforcement in uniform. No exemption was available for elected officials.
"An order from the Courthouse Security Screening Committee requested 100 percent random screenings. All non-uniformed law enforcement officers, attorneys, and employees will be screened upon entering the courthouse," the incident report reads.
Fairfax County Circuit Court chief judge Penney Azcarate was notified of the matter.
Apart from the Sept. 28 incident, law enforcement personnel have accused Descano of undermining their credibility with victims and vulnerable communities.
Those concerns arise from a string of sexual assault cases involving minor victims, in which Descano’s office sought shorter jail terms for defendants than were available under state law. One involved a migrant from El Salvador who repeatedly raped his stepdaughter. Though eligible for a life sentence, the commonwealth’s attorney agreed to a 12-year prison term, which could run as short as 8 years under parole rules.
A second case similarly featured a life-eligible sex predator who molested a relative on a weekly basis for years when she was between the ages of 5 and 10. The commonwealth’s attorney agreed to a 17-year plea deal for the defendant, who is 53 years old. The victim’s family tried unsuccessfully to obtain a harsher sentence.
In another case, the commonwealth’s attorney agreed to a three-year prison sentence for a defendant pleading guilty to raping a middle school girl four times. The presiding judge rejected the proposed plea deal, saying it did not "remotely reflect the magnitude of the defendant’s misconduct," according to the Washington Post. Prosecutors said the light sentence was a function of procedural issues that undermined the integrity of their case.
"His efforts have been counterproductive to law enforcement maintaining legitimacy and trust in our most challenging communities," said county police officer Ali Soheilian, a representative of the local police union. "His abhorrent policies have had an adverse effect on our victims, often leaving them unprotected and emboldening their offenders."
The Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment.