Oakland: Man takes surprise plea deal in BMT security fraud scandal
By Thomas Peele, Bay Area News Group
HAYWARD — A man charged in a sprawling fraud case involving a security business run from a Black Muslim temple in Oakland that won government contracts with allegedly forged credentials entered a surprise plea Friday afternoon and has agreed to cooperate with investigators.
Ira Dickerson pleaded no contest to one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft before Superior Court Judge Scott Patton and will eventually face one year in county jail after charges against six other people affiliated with BMT International Security Services are resolved.
Exact details of the plea agreement were not revealed in court. Dickerson was “not part of the core decision-making group” at the cases’ heart, Deputy District Attorney Tony Douglas said, and he is not a member of the Oakland temple.
The deal came on a busy day in court during which a prosecutor revealed that the alleged mastermind of the fraud, Dahood Bey, has been employing his temple followers by phone to continue pursuit of public contracts under a different business name.
Douglas also said that BMT had worked as a subcontractor for a nationwide private security firm based in Rhode Island, grossing in excess of $1 million over an unspecified period of time.
It was unclear Friday what that firm, NESCTC Security Agency, knew of BMT. Bey and five other remaining defendants were charged with 44 felonies combined that alleged they fabricated credentials and references when bidding on public work. They claimed company leaders attended Harvard, Princeton and Stanford and employed retired Navy SEALs and Secret Service agents. A person who answered the phone Friday at NESCTC said no one was available to discuss BMT.
When the Rhode Island company paid BMT, checks were deposited and cash withdrawn as soon as they cleared, Douglas said. “There is no evidence of the filing of any tax returns and 95 percent of the money was taken out in cash. We don’t know where that cash is,” Douglas told Patton during a hearing on whether to lower Bey’s bail, which the judge did slightly.
Douglas also said that in taped telephone calls Bey made to followers from jail, he was urging them to pursue new public contracts and try to reclaim others BMT lost under a company name of Oversight.
“He’s telling them how they can get contracts back,” Douglas said. State licensing records show a company named Oversight Security opened in Richmond in August. A phone number or any other information about that company could not be found Friday.
Patton eventually reduced Bey’s bail by $200,000 to $750,000. He also reduced bail for two other defendants, Basheer Fard Muhammad, and Qadirah Najeebah Bey.
But the judge seemed to bristle when Qadirah Bey’s lawyer, Ernie Castillo, said that BMT supplied services under contracts allegedly won through fraud. Castillo also said the company was “trying to gain an edge” over other contractors by doing things like allegedly claiming Qadirah Bey was a Stanford graduate named Barbara Goodman.
The charges “involve public funds,” Patton said. “The ultimate victim is the public as a whole. The public trust was violated.”
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