Slain editor’s bakery source surfaces
By Josh Richman, Chauncey Bailey Project
A former employee of Your Black Muslim Bakery said Monday that he was the source providing information about the company’s woes to Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey, who police say was shot to death last week by a bakery worker.
“It was a known fact that I was the one speaking to the reporter. … It could’ve been me just as easily as it could’ve been him,” Ali Saleem Bey said Monday.”I do feel bad about that, but he asked for that story over two years ago. He knew there was a bunch of stuff going on, and he knew that I knew all of it, so he asked me that when I was ready to speak, that I speak to him first.”
Ali Saleem Bey, 43, of Oakland, claims the story he provided to Bailey, which the Oakland Post had decided was not ready for publication, is that of a community institution seized from rightful heirs through fraud and forgery by a ruthless, younger, criminal-minded wing of the Bey family headed first by Antar Bey and more recently by the company’s current chief executive officer, Yusef Bey IV.
“I would rather be working my business and feeding my family than ducking some crazy teenagers who got control of the bakery,” Ali Saleem Bey said Monday. He added that his and others’ efforts to bring this to light over the past few years were ignored by agencies including the Oakland police, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. “This thing should’ve been stopped well before it got to Chauncey.
“Everybody has known for years that these people were mad dogs biting people out on the street,” he said. “I’ve been saying and showing all this evidence to all these people and it’s like they just willfully look away.”
Lorna Brown, a criminal defense attorney who has represented the Beys in the past, didn’t return a call to her office Monday evening.
Oakland police Assistant Chief Howard Jordan said Monday evidence of alleged forgery, fraud and other crimes Ali Saleem Bey had brought to police either implicated someone who by then was dead already or was more appropriate for civil litigation than criminal prosecution.
“He really didn’t have a lot of stuff,” Jordan said.
Ali Saleem Bey said he adopted the Bey name in the mid-’90s after already having worked at Your Black Muslim Bakery for several years. He’s not a blood relative of Yusuf Bey, the patriarch who founded the company in 1968 and combined messages of black power and adherence to Islam to develop a reputation as a community leader intent upon improving the lives of young African-American men. The organization is affiliated neither with the Nation of Islam nor with the rest of the East Bay’s Muslim religious community.
By then facing charges of rape and sex with underage girls, the elder Bey died in October 2003, leaving Your Black Muslim Bakery’s helm to Waajid Aliawaad, 51, then the bakery’s CEO. But Aliawaad disappeared in March 2004. His body was found months later in a shallow grave in the Oakland hills. Antar Bey, one of the patriarch’s sons, stepped to the company’s fore as soon as Aliawaad vanished.
Ali Saleem Bey now says Antar Bey essentially had staged a coup, bypassing other more elder members of the family in the corporate structure with a document he claimed put him in charge of the business.
But that document, which came to light only recently among papers filed in a lawsuit a family member filed against Antar Bey in mid-2004 over ownership of residential property, was forged, Ali Saleem Bey claims. A corporate secretary’s signature didn’t match earlier, notarized signatures, he said, and there’s a question of whether the secretary was even in California on the date the document was ostensibly signed.
But with it, Antar Bey and those loyal to him took over the bakery and ousted family members who’d worked there for decades.
“If you lined up 60 people in your family … I’m pretty sure there’s someone in there you wouldn’t give the keys to the family business to,” Ali Saleem Bey said Monday — and in this case, that was Antar Bey.
He said parts of the organization, including John Bey, who headed the Bey security service, tried to bring all this to light. But an attempt on John Bey’s life — a June 2005 shooting outside his home — drove him and his family out of town. Ali Saleem Bey said he has been “baby-sitting” the internecine legal battle since then.
Antar Bey, 23, died in October 2005 in a failed carjacking attempt, and Yusuf Bey IV, 19, assumed his brother’s place — another illegitimate heir to the business, Ali Saleem Bey contends.
One month later, Yusuf Bey IV was arrested and charged with having led vandalism attacks on two West Oakland liquor stores, one of which was captured on a store surveillance tape. He was arrested again in February 2006, charged with having used phony identification and phony credit to obtain a $55,000 luxury car from a Vallejo used-car lot. And in April 2006, he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly trying to use his BMW to run down several bouncers outside a San Francisco strip club.
Meanwhile, Ali Saleem Bey says, Your Black Muslim Bakery was in rapid decline. Antar Bey had taken out a mortgage in 2005 on the business’s building at 5832 San Pablo Ave. to repay back taxes and other debts. The business defaulted on that mortgage, and the mortgage holder threatened foreclosure.
Your Black Muslim Bakery filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last October, seeking protection so it could reorganize and find a way to repay its creditors: the mortgage holder and the IRS. But the business has failed to make payments to, and file reports with, the U.S. trustee’s office since then, and a bankruptcy judge last month ordered the business into Chapter 7 bankruptcy — liquidation of assets to satisfy creditors.
The one thing on which Yusuf Bey IV and Ali Saleem Bey seem to agree is that liquidation is the worst possible scenario — an ignominious end to a 40-year community institution.
Ali Saleem Bey said he was ignored when he tried to inform the bankruptcy court and the IRS — the court in a letter rejected as an inappropriate communication, and the IRS in a two-hour face-to-face meeting earlier this summer — that the whole case was illegal: that Antar Bey had lacked proper legal authority to take out the mortgage and that Yusuf Bey had lacked proper legal authority to lead the business into bankruptcy.
IRS spokesman Jesse Weller earlier Monday said his agency can’t discuss anything about a taxpayer’s case that isn’t already in the public record.
Ali Saleem Bey said he tried to enlist local elected officials’ help in keeping the business from liquidation. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums this summer wrote to a bankruptcy court judge in support of Your Black Muslim Bakery, which he said “has established itself as an integral part of the community, and its loss would be distressing to untold numbers of Oakland citizens.
“Not only has the bakery been a source of nutritional, additive-free baked goods, but it has also provided stability by way of employment to many of our residents,” the mayor’s letter said. “I am sure the owners of Your Black Muslim Bakery will avail themselves of every direction and opportunity you can extend to them that will insure that their business remains open.”
Karen Stevenson, Dellums’ communications director, said Monday that the mayor’s office gets “these kinds of requests all the time, we have a routine procedure. It went through our internal process for these kinds of letters, and the letter got kicked out.” Those procedures will be reviewed now, however, she said.
Ali Saleem Bey said he also contacted the office of Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.
Spokesman Nathan Britton confirmed Monday that “Saleem Bey met with our staff, and the staff recommended he raise his concerns with the proper authorities.”
Lee’s office released a broader statement Tuesday saying they treated Saleem Bey’s case as they would any other. “As we do for any constituent seeking help with federal issues, our office provided federal casework for representatives of Your Black Muslim Bakery,” the statement said. “We are legally prevented from providing any details, since such casework is bound by confidentiality.
“Our staff also met with Ali Saleem Bey and explained to him that the concerns that he raised about the bakery were not an issue in which the office could intervene and recommended that he share his concerns with the proper authorities.
“Like many people, Congresswoman Lee has historically supported the Bakery because it has been an important institution in the community, and like everyone who felt that way, she is saddened by recent events.”
Ali Saleem Bey said Lee’s and Dellums’ staffers generally told him to take his allegations of fraud and forgery to law enforcement authorities. The Alameda County District Attorney’s office told him to take it to Oakland police. He says he did so early this summer by filing a report, and heard nothing more about it.
Ali Saleem Bey acknowledges he never used the allegedly bogus document and affidavits he claims to have to file a civil action challenging Yusef Bey IV’s leadership of the company. He said lawyers had advised him to seek criminal prosecution first in order to build a more solid foundation for a lawsuit at some later date.
The last day
Bailey, 57, a former Oakland Tribune reporter, was gunned down Thursday morning on 14th Street near Alice Street in downtown Oakland as he walked to his current job.
Walter Riley, an attorney for the Oakland Post, said Bailey had been working on a story about “the financial status of the organization (Your Black Muslim Bakery)” and the “activities of a number of people who were working in the organization,” including possible criminal activity.
Police officers from Oakland and several other jurisdictions raided Your Black Muslim Bakery’s headquarters less than a day after Bailey’s slaying. Although warrants for the raid had been issued earlier as the result of investigations into other crimes, police sources said Friday they believe a shotgun found in the closet of an adjoining residence is the weapon used to kill Bailey.
Later on Friday police said Devaughndre Broussard, 19 — among the men arrested in the raid — had confessed to ambushing and killing Bailey. He reportedly told police he’d been angry about stories Bailey had written about the business and its leaders in the past, and was concerned about stories on which he thought Bailey might have been working.
Oakland Tribune staff writer Harry Harris and managing editor Martin G. Reynolds contributed to this report. Contact Josh Richman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 208-6428.