IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

L.A. activist gets 4-year term for witness bribe

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Muslim-convert activist and frequent critic of local police was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to trying to bribe a witness in a case involving his daughter.

Najee Ali, 45, was sentenced Monday. A two-year sentence was doubled because of a prior robbery conviction in 1992, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney.

Ali has for years been a fixture at rallies and outside courtrooms in Southern California, often organizing demonstrations against actions by the LAPD. He was a gang member before converting to Islam and founding the group Project Islamic Hope, which describes its mission as fighting poverty and social injustice.

But he has had his own troubles with the law.

In addition to the 1992 conviction, he was sentenced to five years probation for leaving the scene of an accident in 2004. He was free on bail for charges of identity theft at the time.

He had pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a witness outside daughter Jasmin Eskew's preliminary hearing in January. She is awaiting trial on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and leaving the scene of an accident for a July 2007 incident on the San Bernardino Freeway.

Ali's fellow local activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson was surprised he received a four-year sentence.

"I knew he would get some prison time, but I didn't expect it to be that harsh," Hutchinson said. "He was the most visible, outspoken voice of community activism in L.A."

Ali took his activism to some unpredictable places, protesting pornography in a Snoop Dogg video, calling for a boycott of an energy drink called Pimp Juice, and appearing outside a courtroom last year when Paris Hilton had a jail term enhanced.

But his own troubles have plagued him.

"Najee Ali has been on the wrong side of the law pretty consistently," said Bernard C. Parks Jr., chief of staff for his father, city councilman and former L.A. police chief, Bernard C. Parks. "He had the hit-and-run and now this. It all finally caught up with him."