How the would-be mighty have fallen.
FBI agents (and TV crews) descended the afternoon of Sept. 14 on the Warren County home of Tareq and Michaele Salahi to investigate allegations that Mrs. Salahi had been kidnapped.
Rather than being held against her will, Mrs. Salahi had instead run off with Journey lead guitarist Neal Schon, according to the Hollywood gossip site TMZ.com, which reported on Sept. 14 that Michaele was in Memphis where the band is set for a concert with Foreigner. It was soon being reported nationally that the band's publicist had confirmed that scenario and that Michaele had posted Facebook pix of her and Schon.
The first hint of potential domestic trouble in the Salahi home came on Sept. 7 when Tareq sent me a Facebook add request with a message saying he had set up his own profile, sans Michaele. This seemed very odd since they usually do everything together.
However, a faithful reader of our local newspaper informed us he had spotted the Salahis together at their favorite local eatery and that everything seemed "fine" with Michaele hugging and Tareq worrying over the health of staff.
According to Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron, Mr. Salahi called the sheriff's office Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 11:50 PM to report he had not seen his wife for six hours and considered her missing. Deputy Mike Glavis called him back at 11:55 PM to get the details.
Eight to 10 minutes after that conversation ended Deputy Mike Glavis reached Mrs. Salahi by phone. During a Wednesday afternoon press conference in front of the WCSO shortly before 5 pm, the sheriff told local and D.C. area media that during that conversation Michaele Salahi "seemed calm, was engaged in conversation, and assured the deputy that she had left the residence with a good friend and was where she wanted to be.
"Mrs. Salahi advised that she did not want Mr. Salahi to know where she was," McEathron said.
Responding to a question, the sheriff said his deputy was able to verify Mrs. Salahi's voice from previous conversations and characteristic verbal expressions.
Following his conversation with Michaele Salahi some time after midnight, Deputy Glavis called Mr. Salahi to tell him his wife was safe but did not want to come home.
Don't Stop Believing
Twelve hours after the sheriff's office told Tareq they had spoken with his wife and she was safe, TMZ ran a story saying they "just spoke with Tareq" and that he believed "his wife was abducted but he doesn't feel the cops are taking the situation seriously."
According to TMZ, "he believes Michaele had been FORCED to make the phone calls [to the Warren County Sheriff's office] by her abductor... and believes she is in very real danger... especially because the Salahis have received death threats in the past."
Tareq Salahi gave interviews to a skeptical cadre of media who had camped out in front of his Linden area house for the first time since the White House State Dinner fiasco. Tareq was in tears during an interview with a reporter for WRC-TV 4 broadcast that afternoon. Despite Mr. Salahi's seemingly fragile emotional state, the TV-4 reporter literally asked Tareq to "swear to God" his story was true.
Castles Made of Sand
As if his marital and perhaps mental meltdown weren't enough, a bankruptcy-related auction of assets from his family's Oasis Vineyard is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 18 in nearby Hume.
Oasis filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Tareq and his mother Corinne had battled for years over control of the company and power of attorney as family patriarch Dirgham's health and mental condition declined. After an extended illness Dirgham died last year.
Despite the bankruptcy and lack of wine production at Oasis in recent years, as was apparent during the couple's role in the one-season Housewives of D.C. reality TV show, the Salahis reveled in the image of country squire vineyard operators with Oasis as their rural castle getaway. However it seems the castle was made of sand, and the country lord is now without a lady.
Quite a fall from elbow rubbing with President Obama and Vice President Biden at a White House State Dinner in November 2009 -- even if as many believe, they crashed that party without invitations.
Warren County Report Managing Editor Roger Bianchini contributed to this story.
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