Bakery leader’s lawyer smuggled witness hit list from jail, court records say
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Yusuf Bey IV’s longtime lawyer smuggled a hit list out of jail in March that named witnesses her client wanted killed to prevent their testimony in his upcoming trial on charges of ordering journalist Chauncey Bailey and two others killed in 2007, according to court papers filed Tuesday.
The attorney, Lorna Patton Brown “smuggled written communication and materials out of Santa Rita Jail (in Dublin) without the authorization of the sheriff’s department and delivered the unlawful communication to others” on six occasions, an affidavit in the filing states. It also states she has smuggled unidentified materials into the jail for Bey IV.
Brown also received “documents from others and passed(ed) them on to Bey IV” in jail, the affidavit states. She resigned as his lawyer on April 16. Brown had represented Bey IV and his late father, Your Black Muslim Bakery founder Yusuf Bey, in several felony cases.
On one of the documents she smuggled out of the jail “witnesses’ names had been highlighted” so that (a hit man) would know who “he would have to kill so they would not be available to testify at Bey IV’s pending murder trial,” states the affidavit written by Inspector Kathleen Boyovich of the Alameda County district attorney’s office.
The affidavit does not say whether Brown knew why the names were highlighted. Her attorney, Spencer Strellis, declined to comment Tuesday and Brown did not return a message. She has not been charged with a crime. The penal code section cited in the affidavit is a misdemeanor.
The affidavit also states that Bey IV routinely tries to circumvent recording devices during jail visits by “whispering and lip syncing.” In those communications he had tried to intimidate witnesses and asked them to lie and destroy evidence, Boyovich wrote.
Brown smuggled the transcript out of the jail in early March. It was in a package of “manila envelopes banded together” and addressed by Brown, “To: Rasoul Bey. From: Yusuf Bey IV.”
Rasoul Bey is a name sometimes used by bakery follower Gary Popoff, who has described himself as Bey IV’s No. 1 soldier.
Brown later told investigators that she met a woman named Aishia Taylor, who is known as Ayeshia Bey, on an Oakland street corner and gave her the package, the affidavit states. She first tried to claim attorney-client privilege in the matter, then waived it, Boyovich wrote.
That night, inspectors and Oakland Police pulled over Popoff and arrested him. The envelopes were on the dashboard of his car. It is not stated in court papers how investigators learned of the plot.
Popoff was on parole for a drug charge. In April, a hearing officer ruled that possession of documents smuggled out of jail was a parole violation and ordered him returned to state prison. The affidavit states that Popoff and Bey IV are likely to face charges of attempting to kill witnesses. No one was harmed. Two witnesses have been relocated for their safety.
Boyovich’s affidavit was included in court papers filed Tuesday in a real estate fraud case against Bey IV. He wants to represent himself in the matter. Deputy District Attorney David Lim wrote in papers he should be denied the usual privilege — given to inmates who represent themselves — of unrecorded phone calls “due to concerns for public and witness safety.”
Bey IV’s attorney in the matter, Theodore Johnson, said he had not yet seen the papers and declined to comment.
Also in the envelope was a note Bey IV wrote to his former common-law wife, Tiffany Wade, stating: “I have something else I want done and it’s in the letter to Gary” and urging Wade to destroy other, unidentified documents before police find them, “Please!!!”
A text message was later recovered from Popoff’s phone that had been sent by Bey IV’s sister, Jannah Bey.
“I saw 4th yesterday. He wanted me to ask (you) if (you) can copy the letter Aishah has for you in your own handwriting” and discard the original.
Boyovich wrote that before and after the six visits during which Brown smuggled papers in and out of the jail, Bey IV phoned family members and followers and told them either to get materials to Brown or that she would have materials for them.
Some of those documents are related to what is described as Bey IV’s attempt to get followers to launch a website for him entitled “Your Black Resurrection in America Association.” A previous website, Freethebakerybrothers.com, was short-lived after the lawyers of several of his co-defendants urged their clients to take it down. Bey IV “believes the (new) website would be financially beneficial to himself and his family,” Boyovich wrote.
A hearing on his request to be his own lawyer is scheduled for Friday.
She also stated that Bey IV said in a recorded jail phone call to a family member that he wanted to represent himself in the real estate case so he can make unmonitored phone calls about the new website.
A change of venue motion in his triple murder case is scheduled to begin July 19. He is charged with ordering Bailey and two others, Odell Roberson and Michael Wills, shot dead. His co-defendant, Antoine Mackey is charged with helping to kill Bailey and Roberson and with shooting Wills.
A then bakery follower, Devaughndre Broussard, has pleaded guilty to killing Bailey and Roberson and told a grand jury that Bey IV ordered the three killings.