Confessor or con man?
Unfortunately there is no way to prove what Clayton A. Hill revealed to the government this past October, and subsequently shared with HipHopDX in June, regarding his alleged involvement in the cover-up of the murder of The Notorious B.I.G. is 100% factual. While DX was able to establish that Hill had indeed confessed his crimes of the past fifteen years to the feds, there still remain no real means of proving whether or not Clayton is genuinely baring his tortured soul or strategically seeking revenge against former associates in the Nation of Islam while attempting to profit from a fantastical work of fiction.
Real or imagined, the jaw-dropping revelations found in the Chicago native’s autobiography, Diary of an Ex-Terrorist, make for one hell of a story. Self-published by the 41-year-old’s own Bella Media Group, the e-book reads like a less redemption-driven version of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The man formerly known as Clayton X details his hard knock life before joining the Nation of Islam, the hypocritical and disturbingly criminal behavior he witnessed and participated in during his seven-year tenure as a member of the polarizing Islamic sect, and finally his continued criminal activity post-Nation as Clayton continued to battle an addiction to situational ethics.
After rising in the ranks of the Atlanta division of the Nation’s paramilitary arm, the Fruit of Islam, in the mid-‘90s, under the leadership of Captain Curtis Muhammad, Clayton alleges that he and other members of the Atlanta F.O.I. committed a variety of criminal activities – including robbing drug dealers (while masquerading as police officers) – to line their own pockets while sending a portion of their ill-gotten gains to the N.O.I.’s headquarters in Chicago for Minister Louis Farrakhan to use “to uplift our people.”
Clayton Hill Explains His Criminal Past
“I ran a ring of counterfeit check cashers out of Atlanta,” Clayton revealed to HipHopDX via email, “all of which were members of the Nation of Islam. So I had access to ID equipment as well as a way to get Georgia ID’s directly from the state. I went to prison in 1998 for those convictions.”
Hill writes in his Diary of a summer 1996 meeting in Los Angeles between he and the Western Regional Minister of the Nation, Tony Muhammad (who is a former minister of Muhammad Mosque #15 in Atlanta), that allegedly led to the minister requesting Clayton’s scamming services.
“Naturally [Tony Muhammad] asked me about my business and I told him how I lost my contracts,” Hill wrote. “‘Well you look like you’re still doing good.’ ‘Yes sir, I’m doing some things to get by,’ his eyes clouded over as he realized the full impact of what I was saying. Minister Tony was a straight laced businessman and I had never heard of him doing anything illegal. ‘I see. I’ve got a couple of brothers I want to introduce you to.’ The two brothers he introduced me to were inactive Bloods who had just come home from prison less than a year before. They were looking for a hustle and I took Minister Tony’s introduction as unspecified request to put them on to whatever I was doing.”
“Over the six weeks I was out west I taught these two brothers all that I knew about running a check scam and supervised them as they implemented it. Of course I was compensated 25% of their earnings and then they paid tax in the form of charity/tithe to the mosque. I also made sure that Minister Tony received an offering and ‘encouraged’ my two protégés to make sure it continued after I drove back to Atlanta.”
Hill topped off his eye-popping allegations to HipHopDX about Tony Muhammad and several other high-ranking members in the Nation of Islam by addressing its highest ranking member in an email to DX writing, “Here’s the thing about Minister Farrakhan: How can you be the head of an organization for more than 30 years and not know that people around you [are] doing illegal things? They protect him like all heads of organizations are protected but he receives the benefits.”
Clayton’s wide array of accusations about the alleged underbelly of the N.O.I. aside, much more important to the Hip Hop community in Hill’s memoir are recollections of his own alleged role in aiding the man who supposedly shot and killed Biggie Smalls.
Clayton Hill Reveals How He Became Involved In The Murder of Biggie Smalls
Writing in his book Clayton explained, “Sometime in Mid-May 1997 I got a call at home from Minister Tony Muhammad. I was surprised to hear from him since I hadn’t talked to him since the last time we, my wife and I had visited Los Angeles over a year ago, even though we did see each other during the National Laborer’s Meeting during Savior’s Day almost two months prior to that. We greeted each other in the customary manner on the phone and then he said he needed me to pick up someone coming from L.A. and headed through Atlanta. I was to pick him up from the Greyhound Bus Station in downtown Atlanta. It wasn’t unusual for brothers who were on the run to show up at the mosque and need a place to crash as they hid from whatever they were running from but the fact that a Regional Minister was making this request and personally involved with whatever was going on was not only unusual but a violation of protocol.”
“So I asked Minister Tony if this was an ‘official’ request; and if so I needed a call from Chicago. Or at the very least an official call from the Regional FOI Captain, Captain Curtis Muhammad. Minister Tony told me he understood and we ended the call. A couple of hours later I got a call from Brother Melvin Muhammad, the Account Executive from the office of the Supreme Captain assigned to the Southern Region, who told me he was calling me to relay instructions from the ‘Supreme’ (meaning the Supreme Captain of the Nation of Islam-Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad) in reference to an earlier call from ‘Brother Tony in L.A.’ He spoke in short cryptic sentences and I wrote down my instructions asking no questions because none were necessary. Whoever I was picking up was important to warrant a call from Chicago and since I had designs on getting a post once I moved to Illinois this was a good opportunity to establish my worth. The instructions Brother Melvin gave were no different than the original instructions Minister Tony had given me hours earlier.”
“I was to pick up a brother in downtown Atlanta and assist the brother in question with whatever he needed. He was to be kept away from the mosque an out of contact with other believers and especially any member of law enforcement. Before ending the call Brother Melvin told me he didn’t know when the brother would arrive but it would definitely be in the next three or four days. It was imperative that I answer all calls made to my pager. When we ended our call I believed that he knew exactly when this mystery brother would arrive but I also recognized that security and safety protocols dictated that he not tell me when. You never knew who was listening.”
“Two or three days later, I got a page from a local number that I didn’t recognize. I was at home and hurried to drive to the nearest pay phone to call it back. The male voice on the other end asked for me by name and when I told him that he was talking to me he explained he was instructed to call me and that he had just arrived in Atlanta and was waiting at the Greyhound Station. He sounded agitated and tired as I explained to him that it would at least take forty five minutes because I lived in the suburbs of Riverdale, Georgia. Before ending the call and hanging up I gave him a brief description of my car.”
“I sped to the Greyhound Station and picked up a black male who stood approximately 5’11 to 6’1 with a light brown complexion and an athletic build. He looked like he hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in several days and the hair on his face and head looked as if he hadn’t had a haircut or shave in weeks. As soon as he sat in the passenger seat opposite me you could smell the stale funk of being confined on a cross country bus trip without a way to bathe. He introduced himself as Dawoud Muhammad and after he told me he was hungry we made a stop to buy him some fried chicken before continuing on to a Day’s Inn Motel on Clairmont Road on the north side of Atlanta.”
“Dawoud explained that the next day or sometime soon he needed to get a couple of new identification cards. I offered to make him a few counterfeit Illinois birth certificates but he rebuffed me as if he didn’t think I was capable of doing quality work and then explained he purchased some ‘high quality’ ones before leaving Los Angeles from a place called MacArthur Park. Just before leaving I told him I had instructions to collect some property from him. He must have been given the same instructions because he didn’t hesitate or show any signs of doubt as he bent over and removed a trash liner out of a waste can and handed it to me to hold open. He reached into the duffle bag he brought with him and pulled out a semi-automatic hand gun that could have been a .9 millimeter or a .40 caliber wrapped in a white undershirt. Carefully, he placed it into the trash bag making sure his hands never touched any of the exposed parts of the gun.”
“Dawoud warned me several times not to touch the gun because it had some ‘work’ on it. Before driving away I secured the gun filled bag under the spare tire in my trunk. … As soon as I got home I placed the whole package, the gun still tied up in the bag in my safe deposit box I kept hidden in the back of my closet. I picked Dawoud up the next day and we drove to a Kroger grocery store on Cascade Road in Southwest Atlanta where the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles had set up a kiosk to relieve crowding in its main branches. These places didn’t scrutinize documents very closely, probably because there was only one person who worked the whole operation. Dawoud was in and out in less than 20 minutes with his new identification card in hand.”
“We hung out for the next couple of days as I showed him around Atlanta. During one of our conversations while riding around I asked him if he was going to relocate to Atlanta or if he intended to go back to Los Angeles. Every time we talked we avoided exactly why he had come to Atlanta but I privately guessed that he was a fugitive so he probably wanted to establish a residence. But he told me he wasn’t staying in Atlanta and couldn’t go back to Los Angeles. I guess he felt comfortable so he began to talk about why he was on the run. Dawoud explained that he had put in the ‘work’ on Biggie. I gripped my steering wheel tighter but stayed silent, allowing him to continue to talk. He explained that he was a member of the Bloods and said it was [for] what happened to Tupac [Shakur] who was a Blood and a Muslim. ‘And I made twenty five ‘g’s’ off that.’ He patted his front pants pocket to emphasize his point which I noticed was bulging. ‘So where you headed to next?’ ‘Philly. The brothers up at #12 are expecting me.’ He was making reference to Muhammad Mosque #12, the infamous home of the Black Mafia.”
“We rode in silence for a long time, but it wasn’t an awkward silence. It was more of a thoughtful silence as we assessed how that conversation would affect the other party. I took it as a sign that I was making inroads to that silent inner circle I believed existed around the National Laborers, particularly the Supreme Captain. We stopped and bought a bus ticket scheduled to leave a few days later. I didn’t ask why he was waiting to leave Atlanta and I figured I already knew too much as it was. I also wanted my next set of instructions so I could get rid of the gun I had in my house.”
“The day before Dawoud was scheduled to leave Captain Curtis called me and told me he needed me to come to the mosque so we could speak. He didn’t let on that he knew about my current assignment so I headed to the mosque without making reference to anything. When I got to his office I was surprised to see Brother Tim sitting in a chair in front of Captain Curtis’ desk. Before I could salute or give the customary greetings they were both on their feet and ushering me back out the door. ‘Supreme wants us to talk to your friend. We will follow you.’ Captain Curtis and Brother Tim climbed into Captain Curtis’ BMW and waited for me to lead the way to the motel. Neither of them looked comfortable with the other and I knew their orders must have come from high up the chain of command for the two of them to be riding in the same car. As I drove I wondered what was about to happen once we got to the motel and if either of them were armed, because I knew that Dawoud had another gun beside the one he had given me. When we parked the cars in the parking spaces in front of the door of the motel room we all got out, but before I could go inside Brother Tim pulled me aside and told me to sit in my car and keep my eyes open. They needed to debrief Dawoud privately. The three of them talked for at least two hours and they left. After they left I took Dawoud to get something to eat and dropped him off at the motel after he said he wanted to rest for the day.”
“The next morning, I picked Dawoud up from the motel and dropped him off at the Greyhound Bus Station I picked him up from. I didn’t wait to see what bus he boarded either. Twenty four hours later a call from Brother Melvin Muhammad brought my final instructions. He instructed me to drive to Louisville, Kentucky with the ‘property’ I had recovered and someone I knew would meet me there to take custody of it.”
Clayton Hill’s startling story about his alleged assistance to “Dawoud” ends with Clayton passing off the gun allegedly used to murder The Notorious B.I.G. to the personal driver of Minister Louis Farrakhan, Emile Muhammad, who, per Hill’s subsequent correspondence with HipHopDX, then took the weapon to an unnamed “high-ranking” official within the Chicago headquarters of the Nation of Islam.
Was Amir Muhammad Involved With Notorious B.I.G.’s Murder?
While Clayton claimed to both the F.B.I. and DX that he could not conclusively identify the long-suspected gunman in the Biggie Smalls murder, Amir Muhammad, as being the man he knew as Dawoud Muhammad, Hill did seem to find familiarity in a picture he examined upon DX’s request noting, “Amir Muhammad looks like the person who used the name Dawoud.”
And with that statement, Clayton seems to have connected the dots to former Los Angeles Police Department Detective Russell Poole’s long-held theory that, while donning the formal dress of the Nation of Islam and driving a dark-colored Chevrolet Impala SS, Amir Muhammad fired several shots into the SUV transporting The Notorious B.I.G. from a party held at the Peterson Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.
“Sunday, the day B.I.G. was killed is Mosque day all over the N.O.I.,” Hill noted to DX. “That means all the brothers, the F.O.I., would have been in uniform. A suit and bow tie.”
In Nick Broomfield’s high-profile Biggie & Tupac documentary, during one of the most powerful scenes in the film, former Bad Boy Records bodyguard Eugene Deal identified Amir Muhammad as being present at the Peterson Automotive Museum just before Biggie Smalls was shot and killed.
Clayton’s indirect connection to Bad Boy Records doesn’t end there.
“Ironically, one of [my] un-indicted co-conspirators, Ornie Muhammad, is Sean ‘P-Diddy’ Combs personal driver in Atlanta,” Hill revealed to HipHopDX regarding his most recent criminal indictment on 40 Level 4 Fraud counts for his admitted filing of 122 false tax returns that netted him over $300,000.
“The Feds wanted me and they knew that I didn’t care about [my co-conspirators], Ornie or Lee Muhammad, so they indicted my wife to get to me,” he added. “They were both integral in the case but [the government] used prosecutorial discretion and chose not to prosecute.”
According to Clayton, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy DePodesta and two agents with the F.B.I.’s Domestic Terrorism Unit backed off pursuing charges against his wife, Tamara, only after Hill agreed to enter into a proffer agreement with the government, wherein he admitted to the entirety of his criminal history.
As he explained in his book, “A proffer is simply a conversation between a defendant, opposing counsel and the investigators on that case. They get to ask questions and gain information from defendants with no promise of a lesser sentence. Most defendants use that time to snitch on other co-defendants and I was torn between the code of the street to not talk to law enforcement or do whatever was necessary to get Tamara out of jail. The only problem with the so called ‘code’ is that people on the street don’t live up to their end of the deal. Here I was in jail and neither Lee nor Ornie had sent us a dime. My daughter [Sabella], who was about to turn two, was being passed around from home to home and they hadn’t put up a dime to help with her expenses. Hell, when I found out that Tamara could get a bond I called Lee and asked him to have one of his cousins sign Tamara out so she could get Sabella. He stopped answering my phone calls or emails. I felt the decision to talk was made for me.”
As he additionally explained to DX via the CorrLinks email system for federal inmates, “At any time that I debriefed to the government had it been determined that I was lying they could have charged me with any uncharged conduct and obstruction of justice. (I divulged to the government that I took more than 2.1 million dollars…more than 1.5 million more they charged me with.) If that would have happened I would have been sentenced in excess of 15 years. The government found everything I said to be credible as well as truthful.”
The type of daring debriefing Clayton entered into is rare, as he noted, “One of the reasons that AUSA DePodesta and the F.B.I. wanted to talk to me was for the very same reason that you won’t find anyone from the Nation willing to talk to you: because most members of the Nation will never talk to the press or law enforcement for fear of retribution.”
Last Friday (July 8th) Hill was moved from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago to the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Clayton Armstrong Hill is projected to be released from custody the day after Christmas 2016.
Maybe then Clayton can more directly address the allegations he has laid out in his book and to HipHopDX, and possibly more definitively prove himself to be either the man who finally connected Amir Muhammad to the murder of The Notorious B.I.G. or just some guy with an inventive imagination making up stories to sell a book.