Welfare money-maker for senior Bey
By Mary Fricker, Bob Butler and Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
To supplement his income at Your Black Muslim Bakery, founder Yusuf Bey hid his paternity of some of his 42 children so their mothers could collect welfare benefits, said three of his women during sworn depositions they gave in a civil lawsuit in 2005. At various times the benefits included medical care, federal housing vouchers, food stamps and cash assistance that the women had to immediately turn over to him, they said.
Bey hid his paternity by keeping his name off of some of his children’s birth certificates, a survey of county birth records shows, even though he openly acknowledged them as his children in the daily life of the bakery.
Bey also offered to raise other people’s children, and in at least three cases he had one of his women made their guardians. Then he collected welfare benefits for those children, too. And when they became old enough to bear his children, the new generation was also added to the welfare rolls, the women testified.
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The women said they cooperated in the welfare scheme because Bey was sometimes violent and they were afraid for their lives. He sexually assaulted them for years, they said, and they bore his children when they were minors, DNA tests confirmed.
“He took every dime that came through here,” and that was $400 to $500 a month for each child, said Esperanza Johnson, the mother of three of Bey’s children and guardian of at least three more. Johnson said each month she gave her welfare checks to whoever was in the bakery office, usually Farieda Bey, Yusuf Bey’s only legal wife. Farieda Bey and her family declined to comment.
Oakland attorney Edwin J. Wilson Jr. represented Alameda County when three former bakery women — identified as Jane Does 1, 2 and 3 for their safety — sued the county for not protecting them from Bey. Wilson spent many hours in 2005 deposing the three plaintiffs, Johnson and others in the case. He said he found the women’s stories about the welfare scheme to be completely credible.
“I actually thought they were very truthful young ladies who had been very seriously traumatized and who were doing their best to kind of get on with their lives,” Wilson said.
It has not been possible to determine exactly how many welfare dollars Yusuf Bey received because records at the Alameda County Social Services Agency are incomplete. But he could have collected more than $11,000 a month in Aid to Families with Dependent Children and food stamps at various times during the 1980s, based on the women’s sworn testimony, birth records and typical welfare payouts at that time.
In addition, Medi-Cal often paid for prenatal care and deliveries, the women said, and they got Section 8 housing vouchers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help them pay rent, even though Bey, who claimed to be a millionaire, often owned the houses or apartments they lived in.
“There was a lot of fairly sophisticated manipulation going on beyond just applying for public assistance,” said Wilson. His own calculations put Bey’s welfare income at more than $10,000 a month for years, he said.
The welfare scheme began in the 1970s, based on the women’s testimony. It peaked in the 1980s, when at least nine mothers were raising 30 of Bey’s minor children, according to birth records. It continued to his death in 2003, the women testified. At that time, two of his mothers were still raising six minor children.
The busiest year for births at the Bey compound appears to have been 1984, when at least five women or girls gave birth.
“All of them was beating the system. Every single last one of them,” Doe 1 said in her deposition.
Daulet Bey — who bore Bey eight children, including Yusuf Bey IV who is charged in the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey — has two sisters who work at the Alameda County Social Services Agency. They helped at yearly renewal time, when bakery mothers couldn’t remember what father’s name they had put on earlier agency forms, Doe 1 said. Once one of the sisters called Daulet to warn her that the agency was investigating the bakery, according to Doe l.
Reached at the agency in May, the sisters Dana Morgan and Lisa McBurnie declined to comment.
In 2003, Jane Does 1, 2 and 3 sued Yusuf Bey, Farieda Bey, Esperanza Johnson, the bakery, three county social services workers and Alameda County, alleging that Yusuf Bey sexually assaulted them and others for nearly 30 years and the other defendants did nothing to protect them.
Soon after the lawsuit was filed, Yusuf Bey died. The reason for his death was colon cancer, according to his death certificate. A judge dismissed two social workers from the lawsuit, saying there was no evidence they acted improperly. A judge later dismissed Farieda Bey and Johnson, saying they did not participate in the sexual assaults and the statute of limitations had run. Alameda County agreed to pay the three Does $50,000 each, and their attorney $35,000, to save the cost of going to trial.
Alameda County Counsel Richard Winnie said the county investigated the women’s allegations of welfare fraud in 2005 and turned over its evidence to the Alameda County District Attorney for further investigation. The district attorney’s office determined there was not enough information to proceed, said Assistant District Attorney Tom Barni.
Chauncey Bailey Project reporters and researchers contributed to this report.
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