The Investigative Project has a terrific expose on the slick Mahdi Bray, whose antics have been featured many times at Jihad Watch: “Mahdi Bray’s Secret, Checkered Past,” from the Investigative Project, March 25 (thanks to Axel):
It’s difficult to call Mahdi Bray a private man. He leads the Muslim American Society’s (MAS) political arm, MAS-Freedom. His picture appears on numerous MAS and personal websites and he co-hosts a weekly radio program in Washington, D.C. He spent most of Saturday riding on the back of a flat-bed pick-up truck, leading demonstrators on a march through Washington and to the Pentagon in protest of the Iraq war’s sixth anniversary.
The procession stopped outside the offices of military contractors, where demonstrators left cardboard coffins and chanted slogans. Bray, megaphone in hand, led the way:
“We say no more! I hope your stocks plummet to the ground. I hope it goes in the toilet. I hope your stock just goes to hell … The justice, and the peace, and the humanity and the solidarity that we have with the Palestinian people, the solidarity we have with the people of Iraq, and Afghanistan, Pakistan, the solidarity we have with the veterans who have been hoodwinked by this government, we say not in our names!”
As the crowd marched, Bray led them in a time-worn anti-war chant:
“We’re the people. We, the people, and the people united can never be defeated.”
For all his public activity, Bray has rarely, if ever, discussed his life story in detail. His own MAS biography offers vague descriptions of his work as “a long time civil and human rights advocate.”
A charismatic African-American convert to Islam, Bray spent this entire decade working for Islamist organizations. Prior to joining MAS, Bray was political director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Those jobs have helped him build a growing public profile and given him access to politicians and policy makers.
And that may explain his reluctance to discuss his life before political activism. The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) tracked down court records involving Bray and found a history of legal run-ins and deceit. Bray was no kid ““ he was born in 1950 and was more than 30 years old when he amassed at least three felony convictions during the 1980s. And, if his recollection of the timing of his conversion to Islam is accurate, it did not straighten him out. He had changed his faith years before becoming a felon.
Bray declined to comment Wednesday after hearing a summary of the IPT’s findings. “You guys write the stories as you see fit to write them,” he said.
He even spent a couple of days in a Virginia jail cell as recently as March 2008 due to a series of traffic violations. Finally, there are questions today about his Washington, D.C. voter registration.
The 1980s proved to be a difficult time in Bray’s life. The trouble started with an arrest in February 1981 for marijuana and cocaine possession. Then came grand larceny charges for cashing checks off a dead account just two weeks later. He was convicted on the cocaine and larceny charges and sentenced to three years in prison, only to find himself in even bigger trouble toward the end of the decade.
Throughout these ordeals, and even while incarcerated, Bray secretly was keeping hundreds of dollars a month in workers’ compensation money intended for his grandfather. Wrighty Bray, Jr. was injured while working at the Norfolk, VA Navy Shipyard as a “helper-boilermaker.” During his shift on December 2nd 1929, the 25 year-old Bray slipped, causing his right leg to be pinned in the hold of a ship. Wrighty Bray bled heavily and the leg had to be amputated. As a result of that injury, he qualified for – and began receiving ““ workers’ compensation under the Federal Employee’s Compensation Act, known as FECA.
Those payments, regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor, continued to be sent properly and without incident for the next 46 years. Wrighty Bray, Jr. died on December 1st, 1975 of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was 71. His workers’ compensation payments should have ceased at this point.
But court records show his grandson, then called Wright Bray IV, “devised and intended to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud the United States of America “¦ by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.”
The payments continued while Mahdi Bray was in prison for the drug and larceny charges. They continued after the Labor Department sent forms to Wrighty Bray, Jr. to update his status. He was indicted in June 1988 on 64 counts of mail fraud and receipt of stolen U.S. Securities. According to the indictment, Mahdi Bray submitted a signed “false and fraudulent” form saying Wrighty Bray was living in Washington and was unemployed. He “well knew [it] was false and fraudulent in that the defendant’s grandfather was dead and no longer entitled to benefits,” the indictment said.
Department of Labor investigators were growing suspicious about the Bray claims by September 1986. Handwritten notes show an investigator had determined that the “last medical expense paid for the clmt (was) on 3/18/68″ and that Wrighty Bray had no medical procedures on file since 1975. Repeated attempts to receive signed forms required to continue the benefit checks were met with no response.
The investigator concluded: “The facts of this case lead me to believe the client may be dead.”
A December 14, 1988 report from a Labor Department Inspector General’s Office agent indicates Bray changed the mailing address on the benefits at least twice after his grandfather died. The agent also traced a 1984 check and found it deposited in Bray’s bank account.
The payments ended shortly after a March 1987 visit to a Department of Labor office, where Bray tried to drop off a form that had been due months earlier to update his grandfather’s status. According to a Labor Department claims examiner’s handwritten account of the visit, Bray attempted to talk his way through dropping off a late, fraudulent form by claiming he was “Herbert Bray,” and could not stay to answer questions because he was double parked. The note says Bray reluctantly agreed to wait five minutes, and when he did start talking, “indicated that grandfather was old but proud and would not let any family members assist him with the paperwork until it had stacked up and then he would call grandson or granddaughter to assist, which is why he was now bringing” in the form.
When asked where Wrighty Bray was, Bray said he was staying with a granddaughter, but that no change of address was needed since the elder Bray still picked up his mail at home. Asked for a telephone number where his grandfather could be reached, Bray said he couldn’t remember it.
In all, Bray kept more than $71,000 that the U.S. Government intended go to his grandfather. He pled guilty to one count of mail fraud on June 26, 1989 and was sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to make full restitution.
It is unclear how much Bray has disclosed publicly about his past. He does not refer to his criminal history in speeches or on his radio program, called “The Crescent Report.” The show, which Bray co-hosts, airs Sunday mornings on WUST, 1120 AM in Washington.
He often dismisses criticism of his statements and connections as smear campaigns from Muslim bashers.
Of course he does. There is much more. Read it all.