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Malcolm X's daughter pleads guilty to identity theft

By Katie SilverCNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Malikah Shabazz will have to repay almost $56,000 to credit card companies she defrauded
  • Shabazz used identity of New York resident Khaula Bakr, say officials
  • Shabazz must repay the debt within a five years or she face up to seven years in jail

New York (CNN) -- The daughter of slain African-American activist Malcolm X has avoided a prison sentence after pleading guilty to defrauding the 70-year-old widow of one of her father's bodyguards, prosecutors said.

Malikah Shabazz will have to repay almost $56,000 to credit card companies she defrauded using the identity of New York resident Khaula Bakr, according to a district attorney statement in Queens, New York. Shabazz pleaded guilty to identity theft Thursday in Queens Supreme Court for crimes she committed between August 2006 and November 2007, the statement said.

"The defendant, who preyed upon the trusting nature of a once close family friend, has admitted her guilt in committing a serious felony offense and will be ordered to make her victims financially whole," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Due for sentencing next month, Shabazz will need to repay the debt within a five-year probation period or she faces up to seven years in jail, according to the statement.

"We were happy that she got her freedom and that she's going to reunite herself with her daughter," defense attorney Russell Rothberg said.

The youngest of Malcolm X's six daughters, Shabbazz was arrested February in Mars Hills, North Carolina, after having been wanted in New York since 2009.

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. Bakr never opened the account and 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 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.

Shabazz pleaded guilty to one count of identity theft which, among others, included 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, according to Rothberg.

Brown said repayment reflected a "fair and reasonable resolution to the case."