Ex-staffer: Thugs took over bakery

San Jose Mercury News/August 7, 2007
By Josh Richman

A former Your Black Muslim Bakery employee said Monday that he was the source providing information about the company's woes to Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey, who police say was shot to death last week by a bakery worker. "It was a known fact that I was the one speaking to the reporter. ... It could've been me just as easily as it could've been him," Ali Saleem Bey said Monday.

"I do feel bad about that, but he asked for that story over two years ago. He knew there was a bunch of stuff going on and he knew that I knew all of it, so he asked me that when I was ready to speak, that I speak to him first."

Ali Saleem Bey, 43, of Oakland, claims the story he provided to Bailey -- which the Oakland Post had decided was not ready for publication -- is that of a community institution seized from rightful heirs through fraud and forgery by a ruthless, younger, criminal-minded wing of the Bey family headed first by Antar Bey and more recently by the company's current chief executive officer, Yusef Bey IV.

"I would rather be working my business and feeding my family than ducking some crazy teenagers who got control of the bakery," Ali Saleem Bey said Monday, adding that his and others' efforts to bring this to light over the past few years were ignored by agencies including the Oakland Police, the Internal Revenue and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. "This thing should've been stopped well before it got to Chauncey."

"Everybody has known for years that these people were mad dogs biting people out on the street," he said. "I've been saying and showing all this evidence to all these people and it's like they just willfully look away."

Lorna Brown, a criminal defense attorney who has represented the Beys in the past, didn't return a call placed to her office Monday evening.

And Oakland Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan said Monday that evidence of alleged forgery, fraud and other crimes Ali Saleem Bey had brought to police either implicated someone who by then was dead already, or was more appropriate for civil litigation than criminal prosecution.

"He really didn't have a lot of stuff," Jordan said.

Ali Saleem Bey said he adopted the Bey name in the mid-'90s after having already worked at Your Black Muslim Bakery for several years. He's not a blood relative to Yusuf Bey, the patriarch who founded the company in 1968 and combined messages of black power and adherence to Islam to develop a reputation as a community leader intent upon improving the lives of young African-American men. The organization is affiliated neither with the Nation of Islam nor with the rest of the East Bay's Muslim religious community.

By then facing charges of rape and sex with underage girls, the elder Bey died in October 2003, leaving Your Black Muslim Bakery's helm to Waajid Aliawaad, 51, then the bakery's CEO. But Aliawaad disappeared in March 2004; his body was found months later in a shallow grave in the Oakland hills. Antar Bey, one of the patriarch's sons, stepped to the company's fore as soon as Aliawaad vanished.

Ali Saleem Bey now says Antar Bey essentially had staged a coup, bypassing other, senior members of the family in the corporate structure with a document he claimed put him in charge of the business.

But that document -- which came to light only recently among papers filed in a lawsuit a family member filed against Antar Bey in mid-2004 over ownership of residential property -- was forged, Ali Saleem Bey claims. A corporate secretary's signature didn't match earlier, notarized signatures, he said, and there's a question of whether the secretary was even in California on the date the document was ostensibly signed.

But with it, Antar Bey and those loyal to him took over the bakery and ousted family members who'd worked there for decades.

"If you lined up 60 people in your family ... I'm pretty sure there's someone in there you wouldn't give the keys to the family business to," Ali Saleem Bey said Monday -- and in this case, that was Antar Bey.

He said parts of the organization including John Bey, who headed the Bey security service, tried to bring all this to light. But an attempt on John Bey's life -- a June 2005 shooting outside his home -- drove him and his family out of town; Ali Saleem Bey said he has been "babysitting" the internecine legal battle since then.

Antar Bey, 23, died in October 2005 in a failed carjacking attempt, and Yusuf Bey IV, 19, assumed his brother's place -- another illegitimate heir to the business, Ali Saleem Bey contends.

One month later, Yusuf Bey IV was arrested and charged with having led vandalism attacks on two West Oakland liquor stores -- one of which was captured on a store surveillance tape. He was arrested again in February 2006, charged with having used phony identification and phony credit to obtain a $55,000 luxury car from a Vallejo used-car lot. And in April 2006, he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly trying to use his BMW to run down several bouncers outside a San Francisco strip club.

Meanwhile, Ali Saleem Bey says, Your Black Muslim Bakery was in rapid decline. Antar Bey had taken out a mortgage in 2005 on the business' building at 5832 San Pablo Ave. to repay back taxes and other debts. The business defaulted on that mortgage, and the mortgage holder threatened foreclosure.

Your Black Muslim Bakery filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last October, seeking protection so it could reorganize and find a way to repay its creditors: the mortgage holder and the IRS. But the business has failed to make payments to and file reports with the IRS.

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