Bakery associate cited for contempt
By Paul T. Rosynsky, Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Kahlil Rahem, a member of Your Black Muslim Bakery who is already a suspect in a pair of liquor store vandalism operations allegedly organized by the now-defunct bakery three years ago, was charged Friday with contempt of court for refusing to testify in a kidnapping and torture case against fellow bakery members.
Rahem, 27, refused to answer questions from Deputy District Attorney Scott Patton, who called the bakery associate to the stand as a hostile witness. Rahem allegedly helped bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV and bakery member Tamon Halfin escape from the scene of the torture of a woman in May.
He also filed a false police report saying that Bey IV’s Chrysler 300, which was left at the scene of the crime, had been stolen, authorities have said.
Although Rahem has already told police that Bey IV called him the night of the torture and asked for a ride from the corner of Bancroft Avenue and Havenscourt Boulevard, he refused Friday to verify that account on the witness stand.
Patton wanted Rahem to testify about the phone call he received and about the filing of a false police report during a preliminary hearing in which Patton is trying to convince a judge there is enough evidence against bakery members for a jury trial.
The members, including Bey IV, 22; Halfin, 21; Yusuf Bey V, 21; and Richard Lewis, 23, are charged with a host of crimes including kidnapping and torture. Police said the members used a fake police cruiser to pull over two women on Interstate 580 and then took them to an abandoned house on Avenal Avenue where they beat one of the women.
The bakery members believed at least one of the women had a stash of money and Bey IV had told others the cash was needed to keep the bakery running, authorities have said.
They all face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The fifth bakery member charged, Joshua Bey, 19, agreed to a plea deal that will put him in prison for three years. In exchange, Joshua Bey agreed to testify against fellow bakery members.
Joshua Bey completed his testimony Friday morning, after which Patton called Rahem to the stand. Patton offered Rahem immunity from any crimes he committed in connection to the kidnapping and torture case, which could have included accessory after the fact and filing a fake police report.
But Rahem continued his refusal to testify, prompting Alameda County Superior Court Judge Eric Labowitz to find Rahem in contempt of court.
Rahem is due back in court Tuesday, when he must decide to testify or face jail time until after both the preliminary and jury trial have concluded.
Rahem said outside of court he did not want to testify against people he worked with and people he knew. In addition, his attorney, Kristina Kliszewski, argued in court that any questions her client answers could open him up to criminal charges in other cases against the bakery.
In response, Labowitz said Rahem would be forced to answer only questions directly related to his actions after he received the phone call from Bey IV.
Patton then asked Rahem if he remembered receiving a phone call from Bey IV on May 17, 2007.
“I won’t answer that question,” he said.
According to Patton, Rahem told police he picked up Bey IV and Halfin in East Oakland the night of May 17. He drove them back to bakery headquarters on San Pablo Avenue and then was ordered to go back to the house to search for the Chrysler 300, Patton said.
Rahem previously told authorities that upon his arrival at the house he quickly left because the house was surrounded by police cars.
The next day, Rahem told police he had been ordered by Bey IV to call police and report the car stolen, Patton said.
Patton said Rahem’s testimony is not crucial to the case but important because it corroborated the testimony of Joshua Bey.
“‘Crucial’ is probably a stronger word than what I would use,” he said outside of court. “But it is important.”