Chauncey Bailey Project

Bey IV associate guilty in kidnap-torture case

Clockwise from bottom left: Richard Lewis, Yusuf Bey IV, Yusuf Bey V, Tamon Halfin. (CChing/CIR)
Clockwise from bottom left: Richard Lewis, Yusuf Bey IV, Yusuf Bey V, Tamon Halfin. (CChing/CIR)
Clockwise from bottom left: Richard Lewis, Yusuf Bey IV, Yusuf Bey V, Tamon Halfin. (CChing/CIR)

By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project

OAKLAND — A jury Wednesday convicted a follower of the defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery on six felony charges of kidnapping two women at gunpoint and torturing one of them in what a prosecutor described as a failed scheme to steal drug money to save the bakery from financial ruin.

Richard Lewis, 26, a former star football player at San Francisco’s Galileo Academy of Science & Technology, faces a possible life prison sentence without the possibility of parole. He was part of an inner circle that jailed bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV once referred to as his “San Francisco muscle.”

Wearing a blue dress shirt and no tie, Lewis shook his head slowly side to side as the court clerk read the first guilty verdict. Sitting next to his attorney, Patrick Hetrick, Lewis covered his face in his hands as the clerk continued reading the other counts.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon scheduled sentencing for June 4.

The jury convicted Lewis on three kidnapping counts. Two of them — one for extortion and one for robbery — involved the woman who was tortured. The third kidnapping charge involving the woman’s mother, also abducted at gunpoint. Lewis was also convicted of two counts of carjacking — one for each victim — and one count of torture.

Prosecutor Christopher Lamiero declined to discuss the case because two other defendants — Bey IV and Tamon Halfin — are still to be tried. Hetrick left court without speaking to reporters.

The jury began deliberations Monday morning following five weeks of testimony. Lewis told jurors last week that he had nothing to do with the May 17, 2007, crime and insisted that two of Bey IV’s half-brothers who testified against him were lying in order to frame him and divert attention from their own culpability.

Both Joshua Bey and Yusuf Bey V, who have pleaded guilty to lesser charges and agreed to testify in exchange for sentences of three and 10 years respectively, told jurors that Lewis was involved in the kidnapping.

Lamiero also told the jurors that DNA testing, although not conclusively linking Lewis to the crime, showed that he could not be excluded as the source of DNA found on a large knife used to cut the victim.

The victim, a woman in her 40s, testified that she was handcuffed, had a garbage bag placed over her head and was beaten as her attackers demanded to know where a drug dealer —from whom she had bought cocaine — kept his money. A police officer on routine patrol rescued the woman.

The woman said her attackers told her she would be “taken up the hill” which she said she interpreted as meaning she would be killed. She said she was beaten and threatened with being doused with gasoline and set ablaze.

Bey V admitted during testimony that he hit the woman in the head with a pistol butt, saying he was upset after finding cocaine in her purse. Lewis, Bey V also said, threatened the victim with a hot curling iron. Lamiero, in his closing statement, told jurors that Lewis cut the woman with a knife at Bey IV’s order.

Joshua Bey told police the day of his arrest that he and the other four defendants committed the crime. A recording of his police interrogation was played for jurors.

So was a recorded jail phone call Lewis made to his brother in which he said “my dumb ass” could be facing a long jail term. He had recently spent more than two years in the San Francisco jail before being acquitted by a jury on a murder charge and was lamenting that he was again facing a long stint behind bars.

Lewis in his testimony claimed that the words “my dumb ass’ were actually part of the next sentence on the phone call — one in which he said his girlfriend had complained about his treatment in jail. Lamiero strongly refuted the claim, saying the words were a simple admission of guilt.

Hetrick, in his closing argument, offered a third theory — that Lewis was regretful of falling in with the “cultish” bakery organization run by Bey IV, who Lewis met when Bey IV was jailed in San Francisco in April 2006 for still unresolved charges of running down two strip-club bouncers with his BMW following a brawl.

Bey IV and Halfin are to be tried separately in the kidnapping case. Bey IV will first face triple-murder charges in May, accused of ordering Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men killed in the summer of 2007.

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