by Jim Boyle
Allyakber Jaffer Mulla, a 43-year-old Brooklyn Park man and former manager at Elk River National Tire and Battery, has been charged with criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree after he allegedly made advances toward a customer there.
A 42-year-old woman told police the incident happened on the evening of July 12 when she brought her vehicle in to have her tires rotated.
She told a police detective she had been to the Elk River business two weeks prior to the incident and they were rotated without her request. She returned to have her tires rotated back to their original position.
She spoke to the manager of NTB, who she knew to be Ally, from previous visits. He looked up her account and said they could get the work done, but she said he told her it could take up to 90 minutes, according to the criminal complaint filed on Oct. 17 at the Sherburne County Government Center.
About 15 minutes later, the defendant came back to the waiting area to tell her the work was done, she stated.
While she was facing him, the defendant allegedly put his arm around her and put his hand on her back and stated there would be no charge for the service.
The defendant had no paperwork for her, which she said was unusual. She told police she was uncomfortable with the defendant’s hand on her, but just thought he was being friendly. She said she briefly put her hand on his back to return the gesture and thanked the defendant.
The defendant reportedly kept his arm around her and leaned in to try and kiss her. She moved in order to evade his advances, the complaint said.
The defendant also allegedly put his hand on her breast over her shirt, and she “slapped his hand away and exited the business,” according to the criminal complaint. Mulla reportedly said “make sure you come back.”
The woman did not immediately report the incident. She did, however, contact a NTB district manager in hopes of making sure the defendant didn’t have the ability to commit similar acts against other customers. She later decided to report it to police, the complaint said.
A detective for the Elk River Police Department contacted the district manager himself.
Fransisco Anleu, a regional manager for NTB, told the detective he had conducted his own investigation and couldn’t prove the alleged victim’s vehicle had been to the shop on the date in question.
Employees at the store were also questioned by the detective, and they reported being told by the manager to deny that they worked on or remembered the vehicle being in NTB on the date in question.
They also told police they were aware a similar incident being reported when the defendant was employed in Champlin.
When NTB officials became aware of this information, they reopened the investigation. They found that the alleged victim’s vehicle had indeed been at the shop. They were not able to confirm the allegations of sexual misconduct, but they did take issue with some things that occurred.
“National Tire and Battery takes claims of sexual harassment and misconduct very seriously,” said Patrice Kelty, a communications manager for NTB.
Kelty reported that associates who refused to cooperate with an investigation or who misrepresent facts during an investigation are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Mulla faces up to one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine for the gross misdemeanor crime of engaging in non-consensual sexual contact with another person.
His first court appearance was Nov. 2. He is expected to enter a plea Dec. 14.