Syaed Ali: A Threat to the Mayor’s safety?
by Geoff Kelly - posted 9:48 am, January 29, 2009
Last night Channel 7 News reported that Syaed Ali was detained, his house searched, and his possessions confiscated back in November because Mayor Byron Brown’s security team believed he posed a threat to the safety of the mayor and his family:
It was November of last year when Buffalo Police executed a search warrant at a home on Breckenridge Street. The man who lived there is Syaed Ali. He was detained and his computer, cell phone, and personal documents were taken.
It’s been months and now police are starting to open up and say why. “Let’s just say that there are some safety concerns regarding the mayor and his family,” said police spokesperson Mike DeGeorge.
Those safety concerns were detected by the mayor’s personal security detail and considered then and now to be very serious. “It was their professional opinion that this was potentially serious enough that they forwarded it to the Buffalo Police Department. The police department has taken it and they have been investigating the matter ever since,” said DeGeorge.
Back in January Ali told Eyewitness News he did nothing wrong, and believed the move by the police was a directed from Mayor Byron Brown because of a political dispute. “They said because he made the mayor really mad,” said Ali on January 17th.
It’s been months and Ali has not yet been charged. He has filed a claim against the City of Buffalo to get his belongings back. “I want my stuff back, and all the materials back. I want these people to go away,” said Ali in January.
But that might not happen. Police tell Eye Witness News Ali could soon be facing aggravated harassment and criminal impersonation charges. They have also sought the help of outside agencies and may seek federal charges. “Could charges be upgraded, could they be elevated depending on where the investigation goes, I think that’s possible,” said DeGeorge.
Buffalo Police also tell Eyewitness News they are investigating a separate incident involving the safety of Deputy Mayor Donna Brown.
That’s more than Buffalo Police have been willing to say so far: Up until now, the line has been that the BPD will not comment on ongoing investigations—but apparently that’s not a hard and fast rule.
As long as they’re opening up, I have some questions, and here’s a half dozen of them:
1. If Ali threatened the mayor, why is the charge looming over him misdemeanor aggravated harassment?
2. We’ve talked to both the FBI and the New York Dtate Attorney General’s office, and my impression is that Buffalo Police are not going to get any help on this case from those quarters. Maybe I’m wrong, but a representative of the NYSAG’s office told me yesterday about 12 times, “It’s not our case. It’s all Buffalo Police.” So with what outside agencies is the BPD working?
3. If the mayor’s security detail had enough information about a threat to believe it was creidble and to pinpoint the source of the threat, why didn’t they get an arrest warrant for Ali?
4. If Ali is guilty of sending harassing emails to the mayor—Ali denies that, of course—that still doesn’t explain why he was detained without being arrested, allegedly told he would be arrested if he asked to speak to a lawyer or a relative, and then allegedly told to shut up about the whole incident when he was released or face arrest and criminal charges. And it doesn’t explain why the BPD still has the possessions they confiscated—not just computer equipment, Ali says, but business records, checkbooks, credit cards, cash, deodorant—three months later.
5. A lot of the stuff that Ali says was taken from his house is not covered by the warrant requested by Buffalo Police Detective Anna Mydlarz and signed by City Court Judge Craig Hannah. And the warrant cited the wrong statute (though not by much‚ off by one section). Is that grounds for suppression? What evidence did police garner from that search?
6. Ali has said police asked him to confess that South District Councilmember Mickey Kearns, who is running against Brown for mayor this year, and State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, with whom Brown has been feuding for the past four years, put him up to circulating salacious rumors about the mayor via anonymous email last summer.And that in retaliation the mayor seems to have sicced Buffalo Police on him to give him a good scare.
Let’s say that all of that is true. (I’m not saying I think it is all true, but for the sake of argument…) Let’s imagine there’s not a single fucking sympathetic character in this sordid tale. Doesn’t this then seem like a case of slander and bullying typical of Buffalo’s high-school playground politics, but escalated until it’s out of control?
It’s as if some kids playing with matches and gasoline accidentally set fire to the garage. Those damned kids are a threat to themselves.
Anyway, Ali is coming by here in about 15 minutes, so I’ll follow up with his comments.