The Suits of Jack Abramoff, Awaiting Civil Settlement

eza sabatini
Tailor Eza Sabatini with actors John Ritter and Henry Winkler. (Courtesy of Eza Sabatini)
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Suits of Jack Abramoff, Awaiting Civil Settlement

As the cameras snapped disgraced lobbyistJack Abramoff-- fresh from pleading guilty to fraud, tax evasion and bribing public officials -- his tailor watched in horror. "Everybody say they thought this was my suit," saidEza Sabatini.

For the record: Not, not, not a Mr. Sabatini creation. On top of the allegations of bribes and conspiracy, the scandal that threatens to overwhelm Washington, there's the tragedy of Abramoff's ill-fitting wardrobe. "Now's he's in big trouble because he's gained all this weight and he can't find a suit to wear," Sabatini declared.

This tragic tale of unsuitable attire began a few years ago when the master tailor began making custom suits for the lobbyist. Sabatini, 61, comes from a family of Italian tailors and has been making luxury duds for A-list men for more than 35 years. He's stitched up suits forJimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Jim WrightandOliver North-- custom suits (gorgeous fabrics, hand stitching) start at $2,200; made-to-measure (ready to wear, but nicer) begin at $1,200.

When Sabatini was originally summoned to Abramoff's home, he delivered the bad news: "When I visit him for the first time, I advise him not to wear many, many suits he has," Sabatini recalled in his charmingly fractured English. Abramoff agreed and ordered custom creations that would flatter his every inch. He was a big guy back then, the equivalent of a 52 long with a 45 1/2 -inch waist. Sabatini made a few suits, which fit him like a glove.

About a year ago, Abramoff dropped 40 or so pounds, and Sabatini was once again called to Silver Spring. Abramoff insisted the tailor alter his old suits, which the perfectionist Sabatini explained was impossible for an elegant, proper fit. Instead, Sabatini said he offered a $3,000 discount for three new suits (skinny new Jack was a 43 long with a 36 1/2 waist) and, to keep him happy, also offered to buy back four bigger suits and a sport coat for $2,000.

Last fall, Sabatini got a call from Abramoff's secretary asking if he still had the old suits -- Abramoff had gained weight and wanted them back, free. Luckily, the tailor did have the suits, Sabatini told her, and reminded her about the $2,000.

"Send them to his home and we'll send a check," she promised. Sabatini, no fool, sent them COD instead. No cash, and the boxes came back. The secretary called back, shocked that Sabatini didn't trust her boss.

"I'm an old-fashioned guy," said Sabatini yesterday. "I don't think because he's a big shot or rich that he should treat people with lower respect." The suits remain with the tailor, and Abramoff is wearing too-tight clothes of unknown origin.

The lobbyist has no comment, said Abramoff spokesmanAndrew Blum.

Let's Take the Hummer Out for a Spin

New York Times columnistTom Friedmandoesn't like big gas-guzzlers. "I think it should be against the law to drive a Hummer," the "geo-green" guy told Grist magazine in April. "My mantra is very simple: If you want to drive a Hummer, go to Iraq." And he's not too fond of General Motors, which produces the SUV. "If I am rooting for General Motors to go bankrupt and be bought out by Toyota, does that make me a bad person?" he wrote in June.

"Yes!" saysDebbie Dingell, vice chairman of the GM Foundation. So Dingell did what a Motor City fan with a flair for publicity would do: She arrived at Friedman's home in Bethesda last night driving a silver H3, the new "baby Hummer," touted as getting 16 to 19 miles per gallon. "What bothers me is that he's not taking the time to understand what we're building in Detroit," she said. "I get so mad."

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