Malikah Shabazz, a daughter of Malcolm X, pleaded guilty to identity theft Thursday. She used the identity of a family friend to make more than $55,000 in unauthorized credit card purchases.
Under a deal with prosecutors, Shabazz, 46, will repay the money and be on probation for five years.
She had been in custody in New York City since her arrest in North Carolina in February 2011.
"She's excited to be reunited with her daughter," her lawyer, Russell Rothberg, told the Associated Press.
She will be formally sentenced on July 28. At the sentencing she will sign confessions of judgment, agreeing to make $55,884.28 in restitution to various credit card companies. If restitution is not made during the probation period, Shabazz faces up to seven years in prison.
Shabazz used the financial information of longtime family friend Khaula Bakr to open credit card accounts in Bakr's name. Bakr, 70, is the widow of one of Malcolm X's bodyguards, who was working on the night he was assassinated in 1965.
"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," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.
The scam was uncovered when Bakr got a letter from Wells Fargo Bank informing her that she had an overdue payment of $28,789. 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. 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 belonging to Shabazz.
Two more credit card accounts were discovered in Bakr’s name coupled with Shabazz’s address in South Carolina. Records listed amounts of $8,382.84 and $18,712.06 being owed on the accounts. A third credit card account was discovered that doing business as “All Day and All Night Markets” listed Bakr’s name and Shabazz as an authorized user.
This isn't the first time that Shabazz has had serious problems with her finances. Several years ago, after she failed to a pay the rent on a storage locker, many of her father's writings were auctioned off. They were later returned to the family.
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