Commentary: Court should restrict Yusuf Bey IV’s access to witnesses
ONE WOULD think that a real estate fraud case would be the least of Yusuf Bey IV’s concerns.
The former head of Your Black Muslim Bakery is facing murder charges for allegedly ordering the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey. He also has been charged with the murders of two other men in 2007.
Yet in another bizarre twist in this seemingly never-ending saga, there was Bey IV in court last week, asking Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert McGuiness to let him fire his lawyer and represent himself in a real estate fraud case.
Bey IV is accused of using aliases and forged documents to obtain several properties and mortgages.
The legal maneuver appears nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt by Bey IV to game the judicial system.
If the motion were granted, Bey IV would get to make unmonitored phone calls from jail. This, frighteningly, as he is being investigated on suspicion of ordering the killings of witnesses in his upcoming homicide trial from jail.
Defendants who represent themselves get to make unmonitored telephone calls from jail so that they can talk to witnesses in confidence. Since Bey IV has had a lawyer, his calls have been recorded.
Prosecutors are to be applauded for catching what appears to be a potentially dangerous scam.
Deputy Alameda County District Attorney David Lim was correct when he told the court that allowing Bey IV unmonitored phone calls could pose a public safety hazard.
Lim has made a reasonable request. If Bey IV’s request to represent himself is granted, there must be restrictions to ensure that he does not abuse the privilege.
Lim wants to appoint a private investigator to make Bey IV’s jail calls for him.
There is ample reason to be suspicious of Bey IV’s motives.
The real estate fraud case has been dormant for more than two years. Then, all of the sudden, last month, the former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader raised the idea of representing himself.
Bey IV made his request after one of his bakery followers was apprehended by police — allegedly in possession of Bey IV’s scribbled notes ordering the killing of witnesses in the Bailey case. The follower’s parole was revoked and an investigation is ongoing.
Lorna Brown, Bey IV’s former lawyer in his murder case, is being investigated on suspicion of carrying his notes out of Santa Rita Jail. Then giving them to a Bey IV family member who then passed them along to the bakery follower Gary Popoff. Brown has since resigned as Bey IV’s lawyer.
Given Your Black Muslim Bakery’s well-documented history of sowing terror, we urge Judge McGuiness to approve the restrictions requested by prosecutors.
Giving Bey IV unmonitored telephone use would clearly not be in the public interest.