NEW YORK - Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown has just announced that Malikah Shabazz, the youngest daughter of slain activist Malcolm X, was arraigned last night in Queens Criminal Court on charges of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the 70-year-old widow of one of her father’s bodyguards, in part, by stealing the woman’s personal identification information. Shabazz, who has been wanted on the charges since October 16, 2009, was arrested two weeks ago at her residence in Mars Hills (Madison County), North Carolina. She waived extradition.
District Attorney Brown said, “The defendant is alleged to have preyed upon the trusting nature of a once close family friend to steal more than $55,000 from her. The charges are serious and if true represent a betrayal of their friendship.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Malikah Shabazz, 44. Shabazz was arraigned last night before Queens Criminal Court Judge Michael Yavinsky on a criminal complaint charging her with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, second-degree forgery, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree identity theft, first-degree falsifying business records, first-degree scheme to defraud and third-degree unlawful possession of personal identification information. Shabazz, who faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, was ordered held on $100,000 bail and to return to court on March 15, 2011.
District Attorney Brown said that, according to the criminal charges, Queens resident Khaula Bakr, the widow of a bodyguard who was with the slain civil rights leader when he was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21, 1965, and a longtime family friend, 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. Transactions on the account included charges to Bell South, Bank of America, GE, Lowe’s Capital One, Discover Card, Midnight Velvet, AT&T and Wells Fargo. Ms. Bakr, who never opened such an account nor authorized anyone else to do so in her name, ran three credit reports on herself and discovered that the reports listed her address as 2514 Louisa Street in Columbia, South Carolina, an address allegedly belonging to Malikah Shabazz.
It is further alleged that two additional credit card accounts were discovered in Ms. Bakr’s name coupled with Shabazz’s then South Carolina address. Records allegedly listed amounts of $8,382.84 and $18,712.06 being owed on the accounts. In addition, a third credit card account allegedly doing business as “All Day and All Night Markets” listed Ms. Bakr’s name and Shabazz as an authorized user. Account records contained a letter allegedly from Ms. Bakr with her signature, as well as Shabazz as a co-signer of the letter, requesting a re-issue of credit cards and checks with a new account and pin number.
Finally, it is alleged that Shabazz obtained Ms. Bakr’s personal identification information under the pretext of needing the information for paperwork involving a child care power of attorney. After Ms. Bakr provided the information, she allegedly never received any child care documents from Shabazz.
The investigation was conducted by Detective Richard Providence, of the New York City Police Department’s Special Frauds Squad, under the supervision of Lieutenant Christopher Flanagan and Deputy Inspector Gregory Antonsen, under the command of Chief Jeremiah Quinlan, Commanding Officer of the Special Investigations Division.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Neil F. Gitin, of the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau, is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Gregory Pavlides, Bureau Chief, and Christina Hanophy, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney Peter Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney Linda Cantoni of the Investigations Division.
It should be noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.