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Virginia Businessman Pleads To Massive Bank Fraud

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By Meymo Lyons

A flashy Virginia restaurant owner with a penchant for sports cars has pleaded guilty to a massive series of bank frauds in federal court totaling more than $50 million.

Thirty-one-year old Osama El-Atari owned a small chain of steakhouses in the D.C. area and was known for driving Lamborghinis and Ferraris. But last year, as several banks discovered they had been duped, El-Atari absconded. He was thought to have left the country.

As it turns out, authorities in Brazil say El-Atari tried- unsuccessfully to fake his own death. Detectives tracked him down in Texas and today he pleaded guilty to three counts of bank fraud and one count of money laundering in federal court in Alexandria.

Under federal sentencing guidelines El-Atari could face a term of 16 to 20 years in prison.

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