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Va. man gets 12 years for $53M fraud

Tom Jackman

A Loudoun man who owned four restaurants in Maryland and Virginia, drove flashy sports cars, and then vanished when his finances collapsed, was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison for defrauding banks out of more than $53 million.

Osama El-Atari, 31, formerly lived in Ashburn and owned four Original Steakhouse & Sports Theatre restaurants. But federal authorities say -- and El-Atari acknowledged in a guilty plea in April -- he presented numerous banks with fraudulent life insurance policies as collateral to obtain millions of dollars in loans.

To facilitate his scheme, authorities said, El-Atari set up fake domain names, used fake Federal Express mailings and fake e-mails in order to convince the banks that his collateral was authentic.

El-Atari used money obtained from his fraud to buy exotic cars such as Lamborghinis and Ferraris and bought a multi-million dollar home in Ashburn.

When the banks started looking for repayment of the loans last year, El-Atari disappeared. He was captured in Texas in January. He pleaded guilty to three counts of bank fraud and one count of money laundering. In addition to his 12-year prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee ordered El-Atari on Friday to make $53 million in restitution.

“Mr. El-Atari defrauded banks for tens of millions of dollars and used his ill-gotten gains to purchase expensive homes and exotic sports cars, but ultimately he could not outrun the law,” said Shawn Henry, the FBI's assistant director in charge of the Washington field office. “As one of our priorities, the FBI is focused on uncovering financial fraud schemes such as the one perpetrated here and protecting the economy and the public from the financial damages that they cause.”

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  August 27, 2010; 1:27 PM ET
Categories:  Financial Crimes , From the Courthouse , Loudoun , Tom Jackman , Updates  
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Next: Jail for former FBI worker from Va.


you'd think a judge named bruce lee would have come down a lot harder on this guy.

Posted by: rev_ollie | August 27, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

You wrote: "U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee ordered El-Atari on Friday to make $53 in restitution"
Surely you mean $53 million. 12 years is harsh, but $53 is hardly even lunch money.

Posted by: PSB1 | August 27, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Lurch is bitter!

Posted by: japark89 | August 27, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Aren't the banks doing the same thing to us everyday?

Posted by: Aimhigh2000 | August 27, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

But seriously, folks - would YOU lend 53 million clams to someone named Osama?

Posted by: corvidguy | August 27, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: flecks22 | August 27, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

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