After a registered sex offender was arrested twice in three days on felony charges in Northern Virginia, local leaders are wondering what it takes to land a criminal behind bars when lenient prosecutors backed by George Soros are administering justice.
The serial CVS bandit, Karim Clayton, 44, has a seedy criminal history ranging from menacing a CVS employee with a knife to leading police on a high-speed chase on a major regional thoroughfare.
But Fairfax County prosecutor Steve Descano and Arlington County prosecutor Parisa Dehghani-Tafti—who cruised to victory with six-figure donations from Soros—have brought charges against Clayton at least a dozen times between them, only to abandon their cases or plead him out on paltry misdemeanors with almost no jail time.
"Radical leftist prosecutors like Steve Descano and Parisa Dehghani-Tafti do not represent the public or crime victims," said Sean Kennedy, president of Virginians for Safe Communities. "Their allegiances lie with criminal defendants first, last, and always."
A two-year-long spike in violent crime is a political hazard for President Joe Biden and Democrats. Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R.) hammered a public safety message throughout his campaign, promising to fully fund law enforcement and fire an inmate-friendly state parole board. Republican candidates in the commonwealth are homing in on a similar strategy ahead of next year's midterm elections.
Thus far, Clayton’s twin arrests in the last week of September have netted him only three months in prison. He was arrested for assault and battery on Sunday, Sept. 26, in Fairfax County and released on bail Monday morning, according to Virginia court records. That case has not yet been resolved. Authorities arrested Clayton the very next day in Arlington County for stealing from a CVS.
Court records show Clayton was sentenced to 12 months in jail after Dehghani-Tafti's office pled him down to a misdemeanor for the CVS robbery. He can serve nine of those months on probation, however, meaning he will spend just 90 days behind bars.
On a separate occasion in June 2020, Clayton robbed a CVS in Chantilly, Va., in broad daylight. Clayton fled in a 2016 Dodge Journey and led authorities on an extended chase with speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour. The chase ended when Clayton crashed in Arlington.
Clayton faced a felony eluding and disregarding police charge, which Descano’s office pled down to a misdemeanor in September 2020, according to court records. He was sentenced to 180 days in prison, but could log up to 170 of them on probation. He also faced a felony assault on law enforcement charge arising from that event from Dehghani-Tafti's office, which was abandoned in September 2020.
Apart from his Northern Virginia crime spree, Clayton registered as a sex offender in Washington, D.C., following a 2015 conviction for abuse of a child. He lives one-third of a mile from an elementary school, according to a home address listed on a sex offender registry. He’s been prosecuted in D.C. courts for driving under the influence, tampering with a GPS ankle monitor he was required to wear as a condition of parole, and, as ever, robbing a CVS.
According to a report from a case services agency, prosecutors filed the tampering charge in November 2020 after he was cited for five separate dead battery violations. Offenders are responsible for keeping their ankle monitor batteries charged at all times. Three months later, a D.C. Superior Court judge issued a bench warrant for Clayton after he failed to appear at a hearing on the tampering case.
Those two incidents, plus the high-speed chase through Arlington, are strong evidence that Clayton is a flight risk who won’t cooperate with the judicial process. That usually counts heavily against allowing a defendant to bond out of custody.
Soros’s Justice and Public Safety PAC donated more than $600,000 each to Descano and Dehghani-Tafti's campaigns. Soros has also bankrolled successful prosecutorial campaigns in Loudoun County and Norfolk, Va.
Public safety issues contributed to recent Republican successes in Virginia, and Descano and Dehghani-Tafti could prove an albatross for Democratic lawmakers in 2022. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D., Va.), who represents a Northern Virginia district where Youngkin made gains in November, is a top target for national Republicans.
"Jennifer Wexton has supported radical prosecutors who give deference to criminals, not victims," said Jeanine Lawson, a Prince William County supervisor challenging Wexton next year who promises to "oppose the woke anti-police agenda and work with law enforcement."
Zack Smith, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former federal prosecutor, told the Washington Free Beacon that Clayton typifies enforcement patterns that have a trickle-down effect on law enforcement.
"I suspect a large number of crimes simply aren't being captured because police aren't going to make arrests," Smith said. "They're not going to waste their limited resources arresting someone for a crime they know the prosecutor won't prosecute, and where they know the person will be released from jail almost instantaneously."
Progressive prosecutors usually describe offenses like larceny or prostitution as "quality of life" issues, victimless crimes that are better addressed by diversionary programs or social service referrals. Smith takes exception to that idea, noting that Walgreens is shutting down locations around San Francisco due to rampant shoplifting, while other major retailers reduce their hours.
"If you think about it, it's poor and minority communities that bear the disproportionate brunt of these policies," Smith told the Free Beacon. "If you're a middle class family and the closest CVS closes, it's probably not that big a deal. But if you're a poor single mother who relies on walking or public transportation, it's a very big deal."