How Official Oakland Kept the Bey Empire Going 

The troublesome history of Oakland's most prominent Black Muslims -- and the political establishment that protects them.

Page 5 of 9

Of course, Nedir Bey is not the only bitter party. On July 18, 2001, the city received a judgment against him for all $1.1 million. City officials are still trying to determine who, in addition to Bey, may be liable for the loan. To this day, not a penny has been repaid.

Even as Nedir Bey was complaining about the city nickel-and-diming him into failure, another prominent member of the Bey family was enjoying quite a bit of city largesse. Mustafa Bey, another member of Yusuf Bey's inner circle, is the president of Universal Distributors, a security company that has patrolled some of downtown Oakland's shining lights. In addition to securing more than a dozen apartment complexes and hotels in the East Bay and San Francisco's Tenderloin district, Universal Distributors has patrolled the Oakland Ice Center and the Marriott Hotel and convention center, both of which were built using city funds. Last year, officials with the Port of Oakland selected the firm as their top pick to provide security outside the Oakland airport. There's just one problem: A state official insists that Universal Distributors doesn't have a license to provide security -- and never has.

Every security company in the state of California must secure a license with the Department of Consumer Affairs to practice business. The department serves as a clearinghouse for complaints about guard misconduct, and it uses its power to revoke these licenses to guarantee that security companies operate professionally. But according to department spokesman Kevin Flanagan, neither Universal Distributors nor its parent company, Star and Crescent Enterprises, ever have obtained a license. And that, Flanagan says, is illegal.

"Universal Distributors does not have a license with the state of California -- period," Flanagan says. "If there is a company that is operating under that name, it is not operating legally. We are going to investigate this."

When Universal Distributors submitted a bid to provide security at the airport, the company's officers not only claimed to have a license, but provided an actual license number. But that number belongs to a different Bey-run security company, EM Security, whose owner is listed as Naim Akbar Bey. Flanagan says state regulations don't allow one company to use another company's license. When the Oakland Tribune reported this apparent oversight a year ago, Mustafa Bey insisted that Universal did indeed have a license, but that there were "discrepancies and ambiguities about that." If Bey was eager to clear these ambiguities up, he didn't communicate this to the Department of Consumer Affairs. More than a year has passed since the Trib published its story, and Universal still doesn't have a state license.

Mustafa Bey now claims that he is merely an employee of the company, and promises to look into the matter. But in the company's 2001 bid to provide security at the Oakland airport, he was identified as the president and majority owner of Universal Distributors.

Why has the Marriott Hotel continued to use the security company? According to its director of security Charles Brown, Marriott staff recently checked with one "Laurie Gilbervitch," an employee at the Department of Consumer Affairs, who assured them that the company is fine. "We're comfortable that they're legal," Brown says. But Consumer Affairs spokesman Flanagan says no one named Laurie Gilbervitch works at the department. Brown did not return telephone calls seeking further comment.

Nedir Bey resurfaced just one year after dissolving his company and allegedly selling the collateral he had promised the city. In 2000, he ran for city council, attempting to unseat Ignacio De La Fuente, but lost in a landslide. Earlier this year, he tried again, this time seeking to replace outgoing councilman Dick Spees. And despite the defaulted loan and bad blood between Bey and city officials, the candidate once again obtained public funding.

Hoping to reduce the influence of big money in local elections, the city council had launched a pilot program to publicly finance elections, agreeing to match the first $100 of any individual contribution. The idea was to dissuade candidates from being beholden to big campaign donors. It was novel, but not guaranteed to succeed. In fact, many worried that if the program fell victim to scandal in its first election, there might never be a second. But once again, the city looked convicted felon Nedir Bey in the eye and gave him taxpayers' money.

Bey received more than $14,000 in matching funds from the city's campaign financing program. But he may have broken the law to get the money. A comparison of Bey's campaign contributions with county birth records indicates that at least four of his campaign donors may be children. At the time they each donated $99 to Nedir Bey's campaign, Taji Bey apparently was nine years old, Yusuf Bey IV apparently was fifteen, Fard Bey apparently was twelve, and Saffiyah Bey apparently was nine. If these donors are indeed children, and their parents also gave money to Bey, their donations are ineligible for matching funds because any donation by a minor is considered a donation by the parent. Moreover, this means that Bey may have violated city campaign-finance regulations.

Bey insists that birth records don't tell the whole story and that everyone who gave money to his campaign is older than eighteen. "Islamic names are very common," he says. "Just like if you were to go to China, or Korea, or Japan, or India, names are very common." He refused to provide information on how to contact these donors to confirm that they are adults. But Fard Bey, an underage employee of Your Black Muslim Bakery, confirmed that he had given money to Nedir Bey's campaign, and that his mother, Daulet Bey, also gave money to the campaign.


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