Man charged in violin theft blames Asian gang

February 19, 2014 (MILWAUKEE)

PHOTOS: Stolen Stradivarius violin

Salah Salahadyn of Milwaukee appeared in a Milwaukee courtroom. He's accused of Tasing Frank Almond, who's taught at Northwestern, and stealing the $5 million violin. He claims an Asian gang threatened to hurt his family if he didn't steal it.

The suspect says he played violin as a child and took good care of the Stradivarius while he had it.

Online court records say Salahadyn entered a not-guilty plea Monday after waiving his preliminary hearing.

The 41-year-old is charged with being a party to robbery. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Public defender Alejandro Lockwood declined to comment afterward.

Salahadyn and 36-year-old Universal K. Allah are both charged in the theft. A 300-year-old Stradivarius was stolen from the Milwaukee concertmaster in a stun-gun attack Jan. 27 but police recovered the instrument in good condition nine days later.

Salahadyn served five years for a previous conviction for art theft. Prosecutors say he'd been plotting for a while to steal a Stradivarius.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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