Jerry Lewis Bey was the Grand Sheikh of the Moorish Science Temple of America. In the 1970’s he was known as a major drug dealer. He served time in prison and was introduced to the Islamic faith as taught through the teachings of the Moorish Science Temple. In April 1978, he was paroled. On October 1, 1979, he legally incorporated the Moorish Science Temple of America in Missouri. With his religious conversion, he decided to leave the drug underworld.
Lewis Bey established political ties to U. S. Congressman William Clay of Missouri, Mayor Vincent Schoemehl of St. Louis, U.S. Senator Christopher Dodds of Connecticut, Mayor Harold Washington of Chicago, Mayor Johnny Ford of Alabama, Mayor Thirman Milner of Hartford, CT, Mayor Marion Berry of Washington, D.C., Mayor Kenneth Gibson of Newark, N.J., Mayor John Riley of Opa-Locka, FL, Prime Minister Lynden O. Pindling of the Bahamas, U.S. Ambassador to Morocco David Robbins, Morocco Ambassador to the U.S. Maati Jorio, Morocco Minister of State Moulay Ahmed Alaoui and His Majesty King Hassan II of the North African Kingdom of Morocco.
On January 9, 1991, Lewis Bey and fourteen others were indicted under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. He was convicted in a trial with no direct evidence against him and received a life sentence even though he maintains his innocence to this day. He states he is a political prisoner. He wrote his autobiography, “Government’s Target Or Gangster,” in 2007.Early Life Sheikhs are not made, they are born. On October 7, 1950, on his father’s birthday, Jerry Lewis Bey was born in St. Louis, as Jerry Lewis, an American certified Negro, according to his birth certificate issued by the State of Missouri. Lewis was born in Homer G. Phillips Hospital the third of eight children born to Ada Lewis who worked as a housekeeper and Sylvester Lewis a U.S. Army veteran who had served during World War II.
In 1957, the family moved to the Pruitt-Igoe housing projects. His father became a heavy drinker and his mother parted ways with him. The projects were an extremely poverty stricken environment. She raised the family as a single parent. In 1962, he began to play baseball. Jerry graduated from Pruitt School in 1965. He began his freshman year at Vashon High School in 1965. He excelled in baseball and academics. In 1966, he received a baseball scholarship to Lutheran South High, a predominately white school. He felt uncomfortable being the only black student and transferred back to Vashon High School. He graduated from Vashon High School in 1969.
In 1969, Jerry found out his girlfriend was pregnant. He wanted to go to college, but he only received a student loan that paid for tuition and books, but no pocket money. Instead of going to Harris Stowe Teacher’s College, he continued to work full-time at Day-Brite Lighting.
In 1970, his wife Alice gave birth to Jerry Lewis II his first child. During this time he would move his family out of the Pruitt-Igoe Housing Projects to the Walnut Park neighborhood of North St. Louis. Pruitt-Igoe had become drug infested and dangerous.
He was laid off from his job at Day-Brite. He found another job only to be laid off a month later. He found himself becoming caught up in a situation where blacks were the last to be hired and the first to be fired. He began drawing his unemployment check. It was not enough to pay for a car note on a used car, house note, electric, gas, and telephone. He also still had to take care of Alice and his son. He began to think about selling drugs. He made a decision that would change his life forever, one that he did not regret.
Introduction to the Drug Underworld
Jerry became involved in selling eight balls, quarter spoons and half ounces of drugs. In a short time he reached multi-millionaire status. In April 1972, he was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. Jerry would go to trial and be found not guilty.
On May 19, 1972, Jerry was arrested by the federal task force agents on federal drug charges. After entering a plea of guilty to one count of a three count indictment, he was sentenced on September 15, 1972, to a term of six months to ten years under a Federal Youth Act known as the Narcotic Addition Rehabilitation Act (NARA Act). He was sent to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) at Milan, Michigan.
In March 1973 while serving his sentence in Milan, Jerry’s second child was born, Marcus Lewis.On August 17, 1973, after eleven months Jerry received parole and placed on probation for nine years.In September 1975, Jerry was placed under arrest for a double homicide. He was released after questioning with no charges filed.
In December 1976, Jerry’s daughter Katrina Lewis Bey was born and died a day later.In June 1976, Jerry was arrested as a suspect in a double shooting. He was later released with no charges.On December 3, 1976 Jerry’s third son Jerry On February 14, 1977 Jerry went to his parole officer for an appointment and was arrested by federal marshals on a dismissed gun charge from October 21, 1976.
In March of 1977 he was returned back to the federal prison at Milan.
In August of 1977, Jerry’s fourth son Jimmy J. Lewis was born.
Conversion to the Moorish Science Temple of America
On September 3, 1977 Jerry Lewis joined the Moorish Science Temple of America while at FCI Milan introduced by George Walton Bey of Detroit, Michigan. He takes on the name of Jerry Lewis Bey. On April 10, 1978, he was reinstated to parole.The Moorish Science Temple introduced to St. Louis, Missouri
On October 1, 1979 Jerry Lewis Bey legally incorporated the Moorish Science Temple of America in St. Louis. He begins holding worship services at the St. Louis City Jail (Workhouse) and other state prison facilities.
On December 24, 1980, Jerry married Doris Lewis Bey.
Task Force Investigation Opens
On authorization from the U.S. Justice Department an Organize Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation was opened on May 23, 1983 on Jerry Lewis Bey and the Moorish Science Temple of America in St. Louis, Missouri.
On April 18, 1984 Bey and other leaders of the MSTA attended the 10 Anniversary of the National Conference of Mayors in St. Louis. On January 8, 1985 Bey received a proclamation from the Mayor of St. Louis Vincent Schoemehl. On January 25, 1985, Bey traveled and was presented with a proclamation from Mayor Kenneth Gibson of Newark, New Jersey. On April 19, 1985 Bey traveled and received a proclamation from Mayor Thirman Milner of Hartford, Connecticut. On April 20, 1985 Bey traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive a Resolution from the National Conference of Mayors honoring Noble Drew Ali. This Resolution signed by Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. On August 30, 1985 Bey traveled to Opa-Locka, Florida and received a proclamation from Mayor John Riley. On December 16, 1985 Bey traveled to Chicago and received a proclamation from Mayor Harold Washington of Chicago, Illinois.
Task Force Investigation ClosedThe Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) opened a case May 23, 1983 on Jerry Lewis Bey and the Moorish Science Temple of America was officially closed by The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on April 7, 1987, without any arrests or indictments during the four year investigation. On May 20, 1987, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) closed its portion of the investigation. In August of 1985, Jerry’s daughter, Ayesha Lewis Bey was born. In July of 1987 Jerry’s fifth son Jaqubus Lewis Bey was born.
In March of 1990, Lewis Bey would marry Tonya Brown Bey.
International Travel and Meeting World Leaders
In mid-August 1985, Bey and a delegation of Moors attended the World Convention of Mayors held in Paradise Islands, Bahamas. On August 20, 1988 Bey led an official delegation of Moorish-Americans from St. Louis to the Royal Kingdom of Morocco during a two week visit. In March 1990, Bey led another delegation of Moorish-Americans to Morocco and the Moorish Science Temple of St. Louis presented with a Resolution. The Resolution was received by the King of Morocco’s Second-In-Command, Moulay Ahmed Aloui who served as the Minister of State and a cousin of King Hassan II. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) Indictment
January 9, 1991 Bey and 13 others were charged with a total of 11 murders, conspiracy to commit murder and drug conspiracy.
On September 24, 1993 Bey and his co-defendants were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Instead of the receiving 17 ½ years called for by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for second degree murder charges based on Bey’s criminal history category and offense level, the Judge used a “preponderance of the evidence standard” and sentenced Bey and others based on his finding, not the jury, to the life term based on first degree murder and over 213 kilograms of cocaine that was never charged by the grand jury in the indictment nor presented to the trial jury. Jerry Lewis Bey trial is still the longest running trial in Missouri history lasting nearly 7 ½ months.
Sheikh Jerry Lewis Bey and his co-defendants continue to appeal their decisions. In January 2007, Bey released his autobiography “Government’s Target Or Gangster.” He continues to write while serving time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Marion, Illinois.