Cloth Encounters: The Abramoff Suit Suit

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The saga of the suits, Part 3: Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- currently serving a nearly six-year sentence in federal prison for fraud, tax evasion and bribing public officials -- is suing his former tailor. In papers filed in D.C. Superior Court, Abramoff claims that Eza Sabatini sold suits made for him and kept the money instead of giving it to him.

"I think he really feels like this guy took advantage of him," said Abramoff's attorney Jon van Horne.

The dispute began in 2002 when the Italian tailor produced four custom-made suits and a sports coat for the weight-challenged lobbyist. Abramoff paid $6,142.50 -- a huge discount, Sabatini said, obtained because Abramoff promised to refer VIPs to the tailor.

Then Abramoff lost 40 pounds and asked Sabatini to take in the clothing, but the tailor said the suits would not fit properly if altered. Instead, he sold two leaner suits to Abramoff at full price and took back the old ones to recoup some of his loss by trying to find another customer for the handmade pieces. When Abramoff ballooned again, he wanted them back. Sabatini, who claims he never got one client from the lobbyist, asked for $2,000 to settle the account. The two men fell out; the suits went into storage.

Then Abramoff went off to Camp Fed, and Sabatini was able to sell two of the suits, at a loss, to M.E. Sprengelmeyer, the Washington correspondent for the Rocky Mountain News, who just happens to be a 52 long, 45 1/2 -inch waist. The reporter wore one of the double-breasted pinstriped suits to a White House Christmas party and then wrote about it for his newspaper.

Now Abramoff is suing. The civil complaint asks for the $6,142.50 he paid for the first four suits, and claims that the tailor owes him money from any sale.

Sabatini has been served but has not yet responded to the lawsuit. "I am going to fight it," he told us yesterday. "This is not just about me -- it's about our society, how the rich treat the small-business people."

So, will Sprengelmeyer be called as a "material" witness? (Hahaha.) The journalist said he had "no idea" about the legal spat.

Hey, Isn't That . . . ?

  • Mark Warner rockin' out at the Christina Aguilera show Monday night. Well, can't vouch for the rockin'-out part, but he was at Verizon Center in a black polo and khakis loading up on sodas and snacks with a bunch of teens, presumably his daughters. Unclear whether Va.'s former guv is an Xtina fan or was there for openers Danity Kane and Pussycat Dolls.
  • David Arquette wearing a black outfit with a sparkly life-size skeleton on it, filming outside the White House yesterday. Mr. Courteney Cox is on some blog-happy bus tour to guerrilla-market his new indie flick, "The Tripper," so you'll probably see the results online.
  • Nic Cage and wife Alice Kim dining at Bangkok Joe's in Georgetown Monday, prompting chef-owner Aulie Bunyarataphan to hightail it from her other restaurant in Shirlington to greet the VIPs. The Oscar winner, shooting a "National Treasure" sequel here (have you heard?), said he went to Thailand recently, loves the food. He ordered pad thai, was mostly left alone by other diners.
  • Love, Etc.

  • Born: A five-pound baby girl, to Melanie Brown (the Spice Girl formerly known as Scary) in Santa Monica, Calif., early yesterday. Brown, 31, has said ex-boyfriend Eddie Murphy, 46, is the father, and he's famously responded that he's not sure.
  • Splitting: CNN anchor Paula Zahn, 51, and real estate developer Richard Cohen after a 20-year marriage, her rep confirmed to Radar online.
  • Still stepping out: World Bank prez Paul Wolfowitz and Shaha Riza, the Middle East expert he's been quietly dating for years (and who moved from the bank to the State Department, with a nice raise, when Wolfowitz took over), made a rare public appearance as a couple at a VIP-laden dinner and recital by tenor Salvatore Licitra at the Japanese ambassador's residence Friday night.
  • End Quote

    "He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared. . . . It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

    -- Keith Richards, telling British music magazine NME about the strangest thing he's ever snorted: yes, Dad's ashes, mixed with cocaine. The Rolling Stones guitarist's father, Bert, died in 2002 at age 84.

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