MARSHALL, N.C. – The children of Malcolm X say they continue to stand behind one of their sisters who prosecutors accuse of stealing the identity of the widow of one of the slain civil rights leader's former bodyguards and using it to run up $55,000 in credit card bills.
Malikah Shabazz was denied bond in a North Carolina courtroom Tuesday as authorities from New York City prepare to pick her up on warrants issued more than a year ago, her attorney Sean Devereux said.
The judge will reconsider his ruling if Shabazz has not been extradited by March 4, Devereux said.
Shabazz, 45, was arrested Friday after an anonymous caller claimed Shabazz's daughter was not attending school. Department of Social Services investigators went to her Mars Hill home in western North Carolina, and authorities determined Shabazz had several outstanding warrants issued in 2009 in Queens, N.Y., that include charges for grand larceny, forgery and identity theft.
Shabazz stole the identity of a family friend who is the widow of a bodyguard who was with Malcolm X when he was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City in February 1965, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a press release Tuesday.
She used the fake identity to charge more than $55,000 in the victim's name between August 2006 and November 2007, Brown said.
"The alleged theft represents a shameful betrayal of the friendship that existed between the two families," Brown said.
Shabazz faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
Shabazz denied the charges and is upset her longtime friend would make up these allegations, Devereux said.
"She's known this woman. She shared a house with her for a while in South Carolina," Devereux said. "That woman was going to be the guardian for Malikah Shabazz's daughter."
The DSS allegation is also not true because Shabazz's 13-year-old was home-schooled, Devereux said.
The arrest is the latest challenge for the family. Shabazz and her twin sister were born after their father's death 46 years ago Monday. Their mother, Betty Shabazz, died in a 1997 fire that her then 12-year-old grandson admitted setting.
Malikah Shabazz has distanced herself from her family over the past few years, but her five sisters still stand behind her and were getting ready to fly to North Carolina to show their support before her lawyer told a family representative suggested she would likely be back in New York City in a few days, said Shabazz's twin sister Malaak.
"We're all sisters, despite the false and vicious reports put out in the media," Malaak Shabazz said Tuesday. "We love her and our niece dearly. We'll get through this."
(This version CORRECTS Corrects that the victim was the widow of Malcolm X's former bodyguard in first paragraph)