© Copyright 2014, Bay Area News Group
OAKLAND -- Every other Sunday is payday for BMT International Security Services, but before doling out wages, Minister Dahood Sharrieff Bey gathers his workers inside Your Black Muslim Temple No. 1 and delivers a sermon.
As a suited young man stands sentry outside the West Oakland headquarters, Bey presides over an organization that he and his followers have spent years quietly modeling after an intimidating criminal enterprise with a record of violence and fraud that a prosecutor once said terrorized the city: Your Black Muslim Bakery.
"Now the persecution is upon the people," Dahood Bey said in a lecture posted to YouTube in 2011, his words reminiscent of his late mentor, bakery founder Yusuf Bey. "You're seeing the results of desolation. You're seeing the results of the white man's evil."
Nearly seven years after the bakery collapsed following the slaying of journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other murders committed by bakery members, Dahood Bey, 42, has emerged as the leader of an insular organization many thought extinct. But under his leadership, the group has made bogus claims to seek six-figure public contracts, engaged in questionable real estate deals, even found its members involved in a murder case -- all trademarks of its forebear.
"Look at the past," said Jim Saleda, a retired Oakland detective who conducted a lengthy investigation of the bakery and Yusuf Bey. "They pulled all kinds of scams, flipped all kinds of properties. In my opinion it looks like they're starting over."
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley is now "committed to a thorough investigation" of the group, her representative said last week.
Public scrutiny has grown in recent months after this newspaper uncovered that BMT, the security company run from the temple, had used fake insurance documents to win contracts with two public agencies. The Port of Oakland aborted a $450,000 contract with BMT when the newspaper revealed that the firm's proposal was littered with fabricated references, including claims it was run by a retired FBI agent who'd attended Harvard and that its guards were ex-Secret Service agents and Navy SEALs.
Under Dahood Bey, the organization has also revived the bakery's broader business enterprises, running a religious school, restaurant and janitorial service. But an exhaustive review of records by this newspaper found none of them has proper business licenses or permits.
Violence has also resurfaced. In what police describe as a "landlord-tenant dispute" at a temple-controlled house, a BMT guard is charged with stabbing another to death in early February during an attempted eviction. Another BMT guard beat a man with a flashlight a year earlier on the first day of a lucrative Alameda County security contract.
Any resurgence of the bakery will have costly consequences for Oakland, said Saleda, who arrested Yusuf Bey in 2002. "Everything about (the bakery) was a scam. It was a criminal organization. I don't think any of them will have turned over a new leaf."
Dahood Bey did not respond to interview requests. But court documents, public records and interviews with law enforcement members and a temple insider show he has a violent past and controls many aspects of his followers' lives.
He has twice threatened to kill people, including the mother of one of his children, court records show. He also pleaded no contest to perjury for giving the Department of Motor Vehicles false applications that netted him 22 driver's licenses all bearing different names, photographs, physical descriptions or birth dates, records show.
Another Black Muslim whom Dahood Bey was charged with torturing in 2009 described him in court as a "more than zealous" disciple of Yusuf Bey who believed the firebrand preacher was "a great man."
Yusuf Bey, who is not related to Dahood Bey, promoted African-American empowerment while espousing racial intolerance and endorsing violence in a weekly television show. He died in 2003 awaiting trial on charges he raped girls as young as 13. Prosecutors later described his group as a gang and cult that thrived in Oakland for 30 years, committing crimes ranging from welfare fraud to torture and murder.
But all along, Yusef Bey carried on as a community leader. After running for Oakland mayor in 1994, he became a local power broker, building political connections. When Gov. Jerry Brown ran for Oakland mayor in 1998, he visited the bakery. The state Senate even passed a resolution honoring Bey. The Oakland City Council later lent him more than $1 million to start a home health aide business that quickly folded. The loan went unpaid.
It is unclear when Dahood Bey, who was born Cyrano Colar in San Francisco, joined the group. He worked as a baker, and as Yusuf Bey's driver and bodyguard, remaining at the bakery for several years after the minister's death. He was one of dozens of followers who adopted the Bey name as a sign of fidelity.
But Dahood Bey often uses other names. When he was tried for torture in 2010, he asked a judge to call him "Dahood Doe," saying Bey portrayed him unfairly.
DMV licenses issued to him included the names Dawud Beyahed, David Shabazz and Attilla Collan. He identified himself as "Mr. Pasha" at an Oakland City Council meeting.
The seeds of his group appear to have been planted more than a decade ago, when Yusuf Bey's brother, Abdul Rabb Muhammad, cofounded a school called the Respect for Life Institute of West Oakland at the same 27th Street storefront that now houses the temple. But the new group did not begin to coalesce until 2007, just months after the bakery collapse, when the school was renamed Elijah's University for Self-Development.
The temple still bears the name of Elijah's University, though state records show the business -- officially registered to Dahood Bey's wife -- was suspended for not paying taxes. The group now advertises itself in a religious newspaper and elsewhere as Your Black Muslim Temple, No. 1.
Its exterior is adorned with portraits of Nation of Islam messenger Elijah Muhammad. Dahood Bey's group is one of several around the country trying to revive Muhammad's original Depression era teachings, according to a newspaper they publish.
Karl Evanzz, who wrote a biography of Muhammad, said the Oakland temple is one of several practicing his "true teachings," including a "bizarre notion that Caucasians are the physical embodiment of biblical devils."
"The return to the primitive teachings of the Nation of Islam is perhaps a response to worsening racial conditions in black enclaves throughout the nation," Evanzz said. "Groups espousing racial intolerance are typically a reaction to social or economic conditions, or both."
Dahood Bey's followers work at several enterprises, including BMT and the restaurant. An employee roster obtained by this newspaper shows more than 30 people, split among the businesses.
None of those people appear to have state-required security guard licenses, according to records. The restaurant, called The Fish House on its menu and Cajun Hot Seafood on its sign, has no business license or health department permits, records show.
Workers are paid in cash with no taxes withheld, according to three people familiar with temple practices, but pay is often docked for missing temple meetings. Workers sometimes receive housing in lieu of money at properties the organization owns or controls.
A dispute involving a former employee living in one of them, on 31st Street, led to the February stabbing death of a BMT guard, police said.
Jesse James Taylor, 55, was being forcibly evicted from the property when he allegedly killed Francis Nwagbo, 35, according to court records and a private investigator's report released by Taylor's lawyer.
Questions are now being raised about how the organization came into control of a swath of properties near the temple.
The house and temple were once owned by prominent Berkeley real estate broker Cecil Reeves, who died last year at 90. A widower with no children, records show his estate was worth millions. He left assets to his church and the NAACP, but his will doesn't mention the Black Muslim temple or its leaders.
While documents show Reeves' signature on several property transactions with temple associates, endorsing their work, George King, the attorney overseeing his estate, said he doubts Reeves had anything to do with the temple.
But a handwritten note on a 2012 rental agreement for the 31st Street house -- on file with Reeves' real estate company -- states that Dahood Bey's mother, Rory Parker, "will use this unit for housing individuals from her congregation."
And in a lease for the temple property filed with the Alameda County Recorder's Office, Parker stated that Reeves wanted "Elijah's University to purchase the (temple) property so we can continue our work of education, job training and housing for minority low-income residents."
King was surprised to learn of the temple's involvement. "Cecil and I were very close," he said. "I have no knowledge that Cecil had any knowledge of them. He certainly never mentioned them to me."
Despite his violent past, questionable deals and harsh religious dogma, Dahood Bey seems intent on legitimizing his image. Late last year, he went to Superior Court seeking to have a felony that was part of a plea deal in the 2009 torture case reduced to a misdemeanor. He told Judge Vernon Nakahara that he was working "in the maintenance department at Elijah's University" and wanted to improve his job prospects.
Nakahara granted the request. Dahood Bey, the judge noted, appeared to be staying out of trouble.
Contact Thomas Peele at firstname.lastname@example.org and Matt O'Brien at 510-208-6429.