A Milwaukee man was sentenced to 3½ years in prison for pleading guilty in being a party to felony robbery of a $5 million Stradivarius violin in January.
Universal K. Allah, 37, pleaded guilty in May to the robbery as a party to the crime. His stun gun was used to steal the violin. In addition to his prison term, Allan will remain under extended supervision for another 3 1/2 years.
His attorney and family asked for leniency, saying Allah loaned the weapon but didn’t participate in the attack.
However, Milwaukee County Judge Dennis Moroney was not impressed. He told Allah that being a party to the crime makes him just as liable as the man who carried out the attack, especially since Allah knew the other guy planned to use his stun gun to steal the $5 million violin.
“You knew what was going on. You knew he was not capable of getting a gun, he wasn’t eligible to get a gun. Yet you helped him get armament to hurt another human being,” Moroney said. “You’re not exactly a Boy Scout in this operation, let’s be frank.”
Before sentencing, Allah apologized to the court, the violin’s owner and the concertmaster to whom it had been loaned.
“I just want to humbly apologize to you for making this mistake,” Allah said. “This is a total setback within my life. I plan on changing my life, changing everything from this point on.”
The partner in crime, Salah Salahadyn, 42, has yet to enter a plea.
Salahadyn pleaded not guilty in February. His public defender, Alejandro Lockwood, had requested a second plea hearing, which usually means the defendant will change his plea. But the hearing Thursday was postponed after Lockwood asked to withdraw from the case. Saying that Salahadyn didn’t agree with his decision, and that Lockwood had a conflict of interest.
The violin, crafted in 1715 and known as the Lipinski Strad, was on loan from an anonymous owner to Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond.
According to the criminal complaint, the 300-year-old Lipinski Strad was stolen Jan. 27 as Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Frank Almond left a performance at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Milwaukee police arrested three people in connection with the robbery on Feb. 3 and two days later, investigators found the violin nestled in a suitcase that was in the attic of a Bay View home.
The violin had been missing for nine days before police recovered it in good condition. At the time, officials said negotiations with one of the suspects led investigators to the house, and Allah and Salahadyn were charged. The third suspect arrested, a woman, was not charged.
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