Milwaukee barber sentenced for role in Stradivarius violin theft
By Brendan O'Brien
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Milwaukee barber received a 3-1/2-year prison sentence on Thursday for supplying a stun gun used in the theft of a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin from a concert violinist.
Universal Knowledge Allah, 37, was also sentenced by Milwaukee County Circuit Court to 3-1/2 years of extended supervision after his release for being party to felony robbery in the theft of the violin, which was made in 1715.
"I just want to humbly apologize to you and everyone for making this mistake," Allah told the court before the sentence was handed down.
Allah, who has been a barber for 18 years in Milwaukee, was found guilty of supplying the stun gun to Salah Jones, who faces trial on charges he incapacitated Frank Almond with the weapon as the musician left a performance in a Milwaukee suburb on Jan. 27.
Prosecutors said Jones then took the violin, valued at about $5 million.
Authorities recovered the undamaged Lipinski Stradivarius inside a suitcase in the attic of a Milwaukee home nine days after the theft. The violin was on indefinite loan to Almond from a private owner,
Almond, who is performing again with the instrument, told the hearing: "I never could have imagined an unprovoked violent attack resulting in theft of something so fundamental to my life."
Allah's lawyer told the court his client did not know exactly what Jones was planning to do with the stun gun.
"You're not exactly a boy scout in this operation," Judge Dennis Moroney told Allah before sentencing.
Jones had been scheduled to plead in the case on Thursday, but his attorney withdrew, citing a conflict of interest. Jones is due back in court on Aug. 1.