by Max Brantley
Joe Alley, who shot two alleged robbers who’d taken cash from him at his Joe’s Grocery and Deli on Col. Glenn Road earlier this week, apparently has a record on drug charges that raises the question of whether he could legally possess a gun.
He wouldn’t talk to the Times. Our information comes from Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley and the case file. Details follow:
Elias Yousef Alley, then 49, entered negotiated no-contest pleas June 11, 2001 to two Class D felony charges for failing to report sales of “drug precursors,” specifically pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in over-the-counter drugs that is often used in making methamphetamines. He received four years’ probation and a $10,000 fine. He was initially charged with five felonies, including manufacture of meth and using Joe's Grocery as a drug house. Sana Alley, then 35, was also charged in the same case, but charges against her were dropped. Prosecutors charged initially that he sold bulk quantities of over-the-counter drugs to meth makers and undercover officers.
State law prohibits people convicted of felonies from owning or possessing firearms. Prosecutor Larry Jegley, who confirmed the 2001 case against Alley, said he'd heard Alley had told police officers after the shooting of two men who robbed him at gunpoint Wednesday that his attorney had taken steps to restore his firearm rights. We asked Lt. Terry Hastings for details, but he's not gotten back with additional information. We’ve been unable to contact Alley's attorney. A motion to seal the file in his case was filed in December, but has not been acted on. It could not be retrieved from the clerk's office Friday because it was being scanned for digital filing, but it seems likely that it mirrors a 2002 motion never acted on that said the file should be sealed because Alley had completed probation. The prosecutor objected in 2002 because the four-year probation had not fully run and there's no record that a judge acted on the motion. Alley was sentenced under a law that allows expungement of a criminal record when probation is successfully completed, Jegley said.
The case file shows that a condition of his probation was that he not possess a weapon. Alley told the Democrat-Gazette in an article published Friday that the .357 Magnum he used this week had been in his store since he took it over in 1979.
Jegley said he wasn’t prepared to comment on what course he might take, if any, if Alley was prohibited from possessing a firearm. He said he first wants to see investigations from Little Rock police on the reported robbery of the store and then on the review of Alley’s shooting of two suspects. One was shot in the leg and the other was shot in the chest but both are expected to survive. They drove away from the scene, but didn’t get far before stopping and calling 911 for medical assistance.
We tried to call Alley today. A man who identified himself as Alley's son answered the store telephone and said his father was not granting further interviews. Asked about the old case, he said, “That was over 15 years ago.” He referred questions to Alley’s attorney, but wouldn't identify him. His attorney in earlier court actions, Dale Adams, was out of town on a case Friday and couldn't be reached. According to documents in the case file, Alley was charged for incidents dating back to 2000.
David Koon contributed to the reporting.