Stradivarius Theft Defendant Pleads Not GuiltyBy: Chris Tepedino - March 26, 2014
A second suspect in the high-profile theft of a rare $5 million Stradivarius violin pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony robbery, according to ABC News, which cited online court records as its source.
Universal K. Allah, 36 years old, entered in the plea Wednesday morning, approximately two months after he and Salah Salahadyn allegedly forcibly stole the violin from concertmaster Frank Almond, who was playing at the performance hall at Wisconsin Lutheran College.
According to a criminal complaint filed by Detective Billy Ball, Frank Almond was attacked with a Taser on January 27, 2014, at approximately 10:20 pm. The Taser struck his wrists and chest, momentarily incapacitating him. By the time he was able to stand, the violin was gone.
A witness, Todd R. Levy who plays the clarinet, was walking ahead of Almond when he heard the scream. Turning around, Levy saw a 1990s burgundy-colored minivan traveling northbound in the parking lot, then turning Westbound on Wisconsin Avenue.
Using small pieces of paper produced by the Taser at the crime scene, police tracked the weapon to one Universal K. Allah, who told an informant that if the police asked about the Taser, he would tell them it had been stolen.
The informant, named W.D. in the complaint, met with an off-duty officer on Sunday, February 2, and told the officer, “I know where that violin is at.” W.D. had been getting his haircut by Allah at a barbershop when Allah began to tell him information about the crime, including the first name of the man who wanted to use the Taser to steal an “instrument” that was rare and one of a kind. That name was “Salah.”
Salah Salahadyn viewed stealing a Stradivarius as a “dream theft” because of its high value and the easy in which he could steal it from musicians walking down the street.
After search warrants were issued for both defendants residences and questioning both men, Salah Salahadyn led Detectives Billy Ball and Gus Petropoulus to the location of the stolen $5 million violin.
It was recovered in good condition and has been played since by none other than Frank Almond.
Image via Wikimedia Commons (Note: Not violin mentioned in article)