Woman Charged With Impersonating Taraji P. Henson, Stealing Thousands In Merchandise

A woman is facing a felony charge after being accused of stealing “Empire” actor Taraji P. Henson‘s identity.

Alicia Newby, a pregnant mother of six, allegedly collected thousands of dollars in merchandise mailed to a fake address under the Oscar-nominated star’s name.

She was charged Sunday with continuing a financial crime enterprise, Fox 32 Chicago reports.

Though no victim names were used in court, the Chicago Tribune reports that court records list the 48-year-old Hollywood star as one of the victims in question.

The 29-year-old’s scams were calculated by prosecutors to an amount of more than US$12,000.

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Newby allegedly compromised Henson’s email, allowing her access to phone numbers, addresses and financial accounts, which she used to shop online.

“Once this was done, the defendant then raided the account for a variety of information,” Assistant State Attorney James Costello said to the court, the Tribune reports.

Charges amounting to over US$4,000 were cancelled by Henson’s manager last August after the fraudulent activities were noticed. Her team contacted Chicago police after noticing items were being shipped to unrecognizable names at two South Side addresses.

Last September, Newby allegedly assaulted a U.S. Postal Service employee after they refused to deliver packages to one of the addresses. The worker said Newby demanded the parcels be delivered, and the interaction was caught on a body camera by police called to the scene.

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Police then lost track of the then-28-year-old, who vacated her apartment in December and only resurfaced after trying to sell a designer bag at a pawn shop using her authentic identification card, the Tribune reports.

The pawnbroker recognized her from her card.

Newby’s state-issued attorney requested a low bond (US$10,000) given the nonviolent nature of her crime and the fact that she is a pregnant mom with bipolar disorder.

Newby was previously arrested for aggravated assault in 2018, though it’s unknown if that arrest was related to the reported assault on the postal worker.

It’s unclear whether or not other “Empire” actors’ information has been compromised.

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In January, one of the show’s stars, Jussie Smollett was the alleged victim of a hate crime that reportedly involved two masked men assaulting him in Chicago as he was leaving a Subway restaurant.

Prosecutors dropped the charges on March 26.

As of this writing, Henson has not commented publicly on the arrest or the case.

— With files from the Associated Press

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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