The charges against 43-year-old Leon Muhammad — the dean of Muhammad University of Islam who is accused of trying to extort money from employees of a Yemeni-owned Bayview liquor store — were reduced to misdemeanors Friday, court officials said.
Leon Muhammad, 43, was arrested in March after an employee of Bayview Liquors at Third Street and Newcomb Avenue told cops Muhammad gave workers an Islamic leaflet and demanded money, police said.
When they refused, Muhammad allegedly threatened to “cut [the employee] into pieces and burn the place down” because it sold alcohol in the neighborhood, police said.
Muhammad denied the allegation in court and pleaded not guilty to one count of attempted extortion and two counts of criminal threats.
On Friday, the judge reduced the charges from felonies to two misdemeanor counts, one for making a criminal threat and the other for extortion, a court official said.
Felonies in California are punishable by a jail term exceeding a year. A misdemeanor is a less serious crime carrying a possible jail time of less than one year.