Taraji P. Henson at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., Feb. 23, 2019. Henson is the victim of an identity thief whom prosecutors say stole thousands of dollars in the Empire star’s name.
Photo: Tommaso Boddi (Getty)

Maybe a Chicago mom thought she actually was the sometimes criminally inclined Cookie Lyon of TV’s Empire. But prosecutors beg to differ, accusing the pregnant mom of six of being an identity thief.

Alicia Newby, 29, is accused of stealing the IDs of multiple people—including that of actress Taraji P. Henson, who brings Cookie to life on the small screen—and using their IDs to make at least $12,000 in fraudulent purchases, the Chicago Tribune reports.


According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the alleged fraud came to authorities’ attention last August when Henson’s manager noticed fraudulent purchases in the actress’ name and alerted police.

Newby herself came under scrutiny last fall when prosecutors say she got into a fight with a mail carrier who refused to make a delivery of goods to her home due to suspicion of fraud.

However, she fell off the radar for a few months, authorities said, before being arrested Saturday.

Prosecutors say Newby was able to steal Henson’s ID when she somehow got access to the actress’ email, according to the Tribune, which reports:

Authorities did not say how Newby and Henson knew one another, but a police source said investigators were also looking into whether any other cast members of “Empire” may have been victims.

A key to Newby’s success was compromising Henson’s email, prosecutors said.

“Once this was done, the defendant then raided the account for a variety of information,” including phone numbers, addresses, financial accounts and telephone numbers that she could then use to purchase items online, Assistant State’s Attorney James Costello told the court.


In addition, according to authorities, months after the dustup with the postal worker, Newby pawned a stolen bag at a pawn shop.

She was subsequently identified by the shop owner and several postal workers from a photo array, authorities said, and on Saturday, police arrested Newby at her home and charged her with “a felony count of continuing a financial crime enterprise” involving multiple people, including Henson, the Sun-Times reports.


At an initial court appearance Sunday, a visibly weeping Newby sat beside her lawyer while a judge decided how much bail, if any, she’d need to put up to gain her freedom while awaiting trial.

Newby’s attorney asked that she be given some slack given that she is pregnant with her seventh child and has bipolar disorder, the Tribune reports.


In the end, the judge released her on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond, and set Aug. 8 for her next court date.

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