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Malcolm X daughter charged with stealing, identity theft

By David Ariosto, CNN
  • Malikah Shabazz is charged with stealing more than $55,000
  • Shabazz faces charges of third-degree grand larceny, second-degree forgery and other charges
  • Defense attorney says "There really is more to it here in this case"

New York (CNN) -- The daughter of slain African-American activist Malcolm X has been charged with defrauding the 70-year-old widow of one of her father's bodyguards, prosecutors said.

Malikah Shabazz -- who has been wanted in New York since 2009 -- was arrested Friday in Mars Hills, North Carolina, for allegedly stealing more than $55,000 from New York resident Khaula Bakr between August 2006 and November 2007, according to a district attorney statement in New York.

She faces charges of third-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, second-degree forgery, first-degree identity theft and first-degree falsifying business records, among other charges.

"The defendant is accused of stealing not only a substantial amount of money from a once-close family friend but her personal identity, as well," Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a written statement. "The alleged theft represents a shameful betrayal of the friendship that existed between the two families."

Prosecutors say that Bakr, the widow of a bodyguard who was with Malcolm X the day he was assassinated in New York in 1965, received a letter from Wells Fargo Bank informing her that she had a credit account with them that was past due in the amount of $28,789.38.

She allegedly never opened the account and also never authorized anyone to do so in her name, discovering Shabazz after running a series of credit reports.

Three additional credit card accounts were also discovered in Bakr's name, coupled with an address for Shabazz in South Carolina.

Prosecutors say account records contained a letter allegedly from Bakr with her signature, and Shabazz as a co-signer, requesting a re-issue of credit cards and checks with a new account and pin number.

They say Shabazz obtained Bakr's personal identification information under the pretext of needing the information for paperwork involving a child-care power of attorney.

Bakr provided the information but claims she never received any child-care documents from the famous activist's daughter.

But her defense attorney says "there really is more to it here in this case."

"Ms. Shabazz is of the opinion that this matter is directly related to the ongoing litigation between herself and her sisters," said attorney Sean Devereux.

Following the 1997 death of Betty Shabazz -- the widow of Malcolm X -- a legal battle ensued over the family's estate, spurring bitter discord between their six daughters over how the potentially valuable historical artifacts and estate assets might be divided.

"The impression you get is that (Shabazz) somehow skipped out on her warrant," Devereux said. "She has been at the address listed on the warrant since 2009, which had never been served until now."

Shabazz made her first court appearance shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit on Monday, which was also the 46th anniversary of her father's death.