Bakery associates plead no contest

July 29, 2008 12:38:38 PM PDT
Two associates of Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV have pleaded no contest to one felony count of vandalism each in connection with incidents at the New York Market on Market Street and the San Pablo Liquor Store at on San Pablo Avenue on Nov. 23, 2005.

Kahlil Raheem, 27, and Donald Cunningham, 73, entered their pleas in the courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Larry Goodman on Monday, just before a trial against them and co-defendants Bey, 22, and Dyamen Williams, 21, was to begin.

Cunningham, who also pleaded no contest to a hate crime enhancement, could get probation when he's sentenced on Sept. 26.

But Raheem may not be sentenced for several years, as his plea agreement with the district attorney's office calls on him to testify truthfully at a preliminary hearing for Bey and three other defendants in a separate case in which they're accused of kidnapping and torturing two women in Oakland on May 17, 2007.

There will be pretrial motions for Bey and Williams on Wednesday and opening statements in their trial may be presented late next week, prosecutor Matt Wendt said today.

Initially, a total of eight adult defendants, plus one juvenile, were charged with multiple counts of felony vandalism, false imprisonment and hate crimes in connection with the liquor store vandalism incidents.

The hate crime allegations against the defendants stem from allegations that they asked the clerks at the liquor stores why a Muslim-owned business would sell liquor when it's against the teachings of Islam to do so.

Two defendants, Tamon Halfin and another bakery associate, James Watts, pleaded no contest to felony vandalism in 2006 and were sentenced to five years' probation. Charges were dropped against two other defendants because of a lack of evidence.

Halfin is accused of participating with Bey in the 2007 kidnapping incident after he was placed on probation.

The preliminary hearing in the kidnapping case, which began on Jan. 24 and has met intermittently since then, is expected to conclude on Aug. 8.

Raheem isn't accused in connection with the kidnapping case but prosecutors want him to testify, alleging that he drove the defendants after the incident.

A judge found Raheem in contempt of court for refusing to testify at a hearing on April 4 but declined to throw him in jail, hoping that Raheem will testify at a later date.

Raheem's plea agreement in the vandalism case calls for him to get five years probation if he testifies truthfully in the kidnapping case.


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