Seven arrested in raid on Black Muslim Temple in Oakland
By Thomas Peele and Matt O’Brien, Bay Area News Group
OAKLAND — In sweeping charges alleging public contract fraud, forged real estate deals and identity theft stretching from Alameda to Orange counties, authorities on Tuesday arrested a Black Muslim minister, his mother and five others, saying they ran a wide-ranging scam through a private security firm that falsely claimed its guards were retired Navy SEALs and its leader a former FBI agent.
Months after this newspaper first uncovered that BMT International Security Services submitted bogus bid documents to the Port of Oakland and other agencies while seeking — and sometimes winning — millions of dollars in public contracts, police made simultaneous early morning raids in Oakland and Contra Costa County, arresting the minister, Dahood Sharieff Bey, 42, his mother, Rory Parker, 63, and others on 44 felony counts.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said Tuesday the group led “an organized and sophisticated criminal enterprise conducting an extraordinary variety of fraudulent activities.” The charges, detailed in a 118-page affidavit, allege the firm faked insurance and state license documents and made fanciful claims of expertise it did not possess.
Bey, a disciple of the late Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey, to whom he was not related, posed as a former FBI agent named David Johnson, claiming at various times to be a graduate of Harvard, Princeton and Golden Gate universities and a “military marshal.” He boasted in one bid to have supplied security services to Disneyland.
Heavily armed police swarmed Bey’s temple on Oakland’s 27th Street at dawn Tuesday as a helicopter hovered overhead and flash-bang grenades exploded to roust anyone inside.
O’Malley said the charges involved “not only large-scale bid fraud victimizing local communities and cities and counties around the state, but also real estate fraud, insurance fraud, bankruptcy fraud, income tax evasion and the exploitation of workers by evading workers’ compensation insurance and payroll taxes.”
Dahood Bey became the leader of the bakery spinoff group after the longtime Oakland institution collapsed in 2007 following the murders of journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men by its members.
Tuesday’s raid occurred the day before lawyers for the two men convicted in those murders, Yusuf Bey IV and Antoine Mackey, argue before a state appellate panel in San Francisco that their clients are entitled to new trials because of judicial errors. Bey IV and Mackey are serving multiple life prison terms without parole eligibility.
Arrested Tuesday morning around the East Bay were Parker, Dahood Bey and top BMT supervisor and temple associate Basheer Fard Muhammad, 62, along with Qadirah Najeebah Bey, 39, Jameelah Aasma Muhammad Bey, 39, Billie Latrice Poindexter, 33, and Ira Barnard Dickerson Jr., 53.
One temple defector who worked for BMT was relieved by the seven arrests.
“I’m glad I left before everything went downhill,” said the defector, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. “They were manipulative and taking advantage of black people who needed help. You needed a job, and they would employ us.”
BMT paid its workers in cash after Dahood Bey’s fiery Sunday night sermons and required security guards and other employees to attend religious education classes, according to the defector and other sources.
“You were literally with them seven days a week, no days off,” the defector said. “You never got a personal day for yourself.”
Neighbors say police arrived loudly to the storefront temple building, also known as Elijah’s University, at 6 a.m. Tuesday. The police left just before 8:30 a.m., then immediately returned when high-ranking temple associate and BMT’s most public face, Basheer Fard Muhammad, walked down the sidewalk toward the building.
He was handcuffed and escorted into an unmarked police car. Investigators from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office were also seen Tuesday morning searching Dahood Bey’s home in El Sobrante. A BMT patrol car was parked outside the Canyon Place duplex as investigators carted out boxes from the property.
The District Attorney’s Office alleged in the affidavit that:
BMT submitted fraudulent bid applications and proof of insurance to seven government agencies while seeking security guard contracts. It received work from Alameda County, the Housing Authority of the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. BMT was close to winning bids from the Port of Oakland and the cities of Oakland, Vallejo and Newport Beach. The work in Oakland would have included guarding City Hall.
Bey and others committed grand theft by taking $113,350 from Alameda County and $135,344 from the Los Angeles Housing Authority in payments for work awarded based on fraudulent bid documents.
Parker used a series of forged real estate deeds to claim ownership of several properties formerly owned by prominent Berkeley real estate broker Cecil Reeves, who was 90 when he died last year.
BMT failed to pay income, unemployment and insurance taxes for its employees.
BMT obtained more than $440,000 from two insurance companies by submitting fabricated claims for stolen items.
O’Malley’s staff and the state Department of Consumer Affairs began investigating BMT in March.
The Port of Oakland that month was in the final stages of agreeing to terms with the company when it terminated negotiations, citing this newspaper’s reporting on the bogus credentials. The city of Oakland also backed off on a proposal to award the firm part of a contract to guard City Hall. The Housing Authority of the city of Los Angeles rescinded a BMT contract after the investigation by this newspaper.
Alameda County canceled its contract with the firm back in 2012 after a BMT guard beat up a guard from a rival company on the first day of the county contract to protect a public works building in Hayward.
A lawsuit by the injured guard, Robert Chamberlin, helped expose the fraudulent credentials that government procurement officials had failed to vet when awarding the contracts.
“Unfortunately, it took my client being beaten within an inch of his life to expose this,” said Chamberlin’s attorney, Richard Brown, after learning of Tuesday’s raid.
Brown thanked the District Attorney’s Office for an “incredible job in uncovering and rolling up this criminal enterprise” but criticized local and state governments for not catching the fraud years earlier.
Brown said the state Department of Consumer Affairs, which regulates security guard companies, “bears a large degree of responsibility for letting the Black Muslims set up and operate a sham security company.”
A spokesman for the state Department of Consumer Affairs said it should not be blamed. BMT had fraudulently taken over the security license of a retired Oakland police officer who had moved out of state. “We had no way of knowing the license had essentially been hijacked,” said the spokesman, Russ Heimerich.
Staff writer David DeBolt contributed to this report. Follow Thomas Peele at Twitter.com/thomas_peele. Follow Matt O’Brien at Twitter.com/mattoyeah.