County will continue attempts to serve Salahi

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County will continue attempting to serve Tareq Salahi notice of an injunction to cease renting his Scenic Drive home.

County Attorney Dan Whitten said the home in question, located at 340 Scene Drive, was denied in 2014 a conditional use permit for use as a short-term rental by the Board of Supervisors.

The decision was appealed and upheld in circuit court, then appealed and not heard by the Virginia Supreme Court. Regardless of the ruling, Whitten said Salahi has continued to rent the home.

It remains listed as “Celebration Retreat” on the Airbnb website and is booked several weekends through October.

The matter appeared before Warren County Circuit Court Judge Clay Athey last week when the county sought a default judgment against Salahi because service notices have not been answered.

Chris Cooper, Salahi’s attorney, argued for the case to be dismissed because Salahi either was not properly served or not served at all.

He cited that the service was delivered to the Scenic Drive home, where Salahi has not lived for two years. Other service attempts were made to an Arlington address jointly owned by Salahi and his wife Lisa Spooden.

Whitten said a 2017 tax return, however, listed the Arlington address as Salahi’s “usual place of abode.”

David Silek, another one of Salahi’s lawyers and friend, was called to testify and said his client never lived at the Arlington address. Silek added that when the county attempted to contact Salahi at that address in July 2017, his wife said he did not live there and that they were estranged.

When asked where Salahi lives, Silek said revealing that information would be a breach of lawyer-client privacy.

Whitten said the county had exercised due diligence in attempts to deliver service. He noted that in emails Silek called deputies attempting to serve Salahi “goons” and that he would never reveal his address.

Whitten added that Salahi is “hard to track down” and recently embarked on a six-month cruise around the world. He said other due diligence was shown when the county hired a private server to handle the service in Arlington. At the very least, he asked that the county be granted more time to serve Salahi.

Athey noted that Salah, who rose to national notoriety after crashing a White House state dinner, is a “very public figure” and given his lifestyle is difficult to serve. He said the county could advertise the notice four weeks in a local newspaper and permit service through the secretary of commerce.

Athey did grant a default judgment against Salahi’s ex-wife Michaele Holt, who jointly owns the house with Salahi. Whitten said over the phone, however, that she is not the problem and it appears Salahi is the one renting out the house.

If Salahi responds, Whitten said either a date would be set, or a hearing will be held in November regarding whether the injunction will be filed.