Surprise guilty plea in kidnapping case
In a surprise announcement just before the group’s preliminary trial continued in an Oakland courtroom, Deputy District Attorney Scott Patton said that Joshua Bey, 19, had pleaded guilty to kidnapping and would be the next witness in the case.
Other charges against Joshua Bey will remain until after he concludes testimony against his brothers and other members of the bakery.
In exchange for his testimony, Joshua Bey will get a reduced sentence of three years in state prison, likely out of the area for his protection, said attorney David Washington. Before the agreement he faced a possible life sentence in prison.
In the preliminary hearing, a judge is trying to determine if there is enough evidence to try the bakery members — including Joshua Bey’s brothers Bey IV, 22, and Yusuf Bey V, 21 — in connection with a May 17 incident in which two Oakland women were kidnapped and beaten with baseball bats in what prosecutors said was an attempt to steal money from them. The plea deal had an immediate impact on the case. Within minutes of taking the stand, Joshua Bey implicated Bey IV in the crime, saying the leader told him to stake out a bingo hall in East Oakland so he could collect his money. By the lunchtime break, Joshua Bey placed the other three defendants at the scene of the torture and kidnapping. Joshua Bey’s testimony also revealed new details of some of the bakery’s business, including acting as a collection agency for drug dealers. It also touched on the shooting death of Chauncey Bailey, a journalist who police said was killed Aug. 2 by a bakery handyman who was angry that Bailey was working on negative stories about the bakery. Joshua Bey said he thought police arrested him because they wanted to talk about Bailey’s death. Bey was arrested with a host of other bakery members in a raid that was conducted a day after Bailey was killed.”I thought (the detective) was coming to talk to me about the raid and the Chauncey Bailey thing,” Joshua Bey said.
But before he testified, defense attorneys for the other four defendants were scurrying in hopes of convincing the judge to postpone the hearing. Meanwhile, family members for the other defendants began to cry and Yusuf Bey V appeared upset. “You’re not a Bey anymore,” co-defendant Yusuf Bey V said as Joshua Bey walked into the courtroom.
“He’s upset. He just got some unsettling news,” said David Kelvin, Bey V’s attorney.
Outside court, family members argued heatedly over Joshua Bey’s agreement until a sheriff’s deputy intervened and separated them.
The atmosphere inside the courtroom was tense as well.
The case had been moved to a basement courtroom and was watched over with increased security. Additional bailiffs were on guard and visitors were required to pass through a second metal detector before entering the room.
As Joshua Bey was finally led into the court, Bey IV glared at him. The two other defendants, Richard Lewis, 23, and Tamon Halfin, 21, shook their heads.
At one point, when Joshua Bey described Bey IV as his brother, Bey IV shouted out in court, “Don’t say your brother, just say Yusuf.”
Joshua Bey described in detail how the group managed to use a fake police cruiser to pull two women over on Interstate 580 on May 17. He said they drove the women to an empty house, then described how he saw one of the women sitting in a chair with a bag on her head.The five members are charged with kidnapping and torture in relation to a plan in which they kidnapped two women in hopes of finding out where one of their friends stashed money. Police and prosecutors said Bey IV believed the women had a friend who stored large amounts of cash at his home.
Bey IV told the other members that he needed the money for the bakery, which was going through bankruptcy proceedings.
As Joshua Bey described it, the bakery was acting like a collection agency for drug dealers and anyone else willing to give the organization money.
Joshua Bey said once he arrived at the bingo parlor, another man approached the car and told him to get the money from a woman who was inside.
That man, who Joshua Bey said was named “Johnny,” is a drug dealer, said David Washington, Joshua Bey’s attorney.
Asked why they would collect money for a stranger, Joshua Bey responded, “I knew the bakery was going to get a percentage of it, for getting the money.”
Joshua Bey said he thought the order from Bey IV to collect money was just another aspect of his job as an employee of a bakery security company.
Joshua Bey then described how he and Halfin, riding together in a Chrysler 300, followed the women onto Interstate 580. He watched as the others, riding in the bakery’s black Ford Crown Victoria, outfitted to look like a police cruiser, pulled the women over by flashing the lights on the phony police car.
After the group pulled the two women over, Joshua Bey said he was told by Bey IV to drive the women’s car.
Eventually, Joshua Bey said the group ended up at a house and he waited outside until Bey IV came outside and told him to go in.
Once inside the house, Joshua Bey said, he could not determine who the other men were because they were wearing masks. However, he said later that night he realized the other two men were Richard Lewis and Bey V.
He also said Bey V was holding a gun and he saw the case for a unique knife that was usually kept in the bakery’s fake police cruiser.
Joshua Bey said he finally realized who the men were after all five jumped out a back window of the house because a police officer had arrived to investigate.
The police officer has said he was attracted to the house during a regular patrol because he saw the fake police cruiser and thought some kind of police action was taking place.
“Everything happened so fast, everybody just ran to the back of the house, somebody broke the window and everyone jumped out of it,” he said. “I jumped a fence and some more fences.”
He and Bey V ran to a gas station where they waited for a ride back to the bakery on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland.
“We really didn’t talk about it until we got home,” he said.
Once there, he said, a plan was hatched to call the police and report the two cars, the fake police cruiser and the Chrysler 300, stolen.
He said Bey IV told him to tell the police he had dropped the keys to the fake police cruiser after he parked it.
Joshua Bey’s plea agreement was kept secret from all except his mother to keep the news from traveling over the bakery grapevine and perhaps putting his client’s life in jeopardy, Washington said.
It was a very hard decision to make, to testify against his brothers, Washington added. According to the deal, Joshua Bey had to agree not to lie and couldn’t leave out or alter testimony to protect anyone.
“His real family is behind him, he knows that. Otherwise he couldn’t have done it,” Washington said. “I told him he’s doing the right thing. It takes guts.”
Oakland Tribune staff writer Cecily Burt contributed to this report. Contact Paul Rosynsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-208-6455.