'Dirty bomb' suspect's criminal record
(CNN) -- Jose Padilla, the U.S. citizen the government suspects of planning to build and explode a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States, has an extensive criminal record, authorities said.
Padilla, who also goes by the name Abdullah Al Muhajir, was born October 18, 1970, in New York and moved to Chicago, Illinois, when he was 5.
"I describe him as a very nice person ... a very sweet person," said Nelly Ojeda, who lives in the Chicago apartment building where Padilla once lived. "And I have nothing bad to say about him ... nothing at all."
But authorities said Padilla became involved in gang activity as a teen-ager. Chicago police arrested him five times between 1985 and 1991, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Sources said he served three years in a juvenile detention center in suburban Chicago for aggravated battery, armed robbery and attempted armed robbery. He was released in May 1988, shortly before his 18th birthday, and put on parole until he turned 21.
He was arrested again in October 1991 on gun and assault charges stemming from a road rage incident in Sunrise, Florida.
The officers who made the arrest -- Lt. Charles Vitale and Detective Neil Lawrence -- said that Padilla fired a .38-caliber handgun after getting into an argument with two men in another car at a gas station. No one was injured.
He was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, one count of using a firearm in the commission of a felony and one count of carrying a concealed firearm. And while Padilla was in jail, he physically attacked a deputy, resulting in additional charges.
Padilla spent 303 days in the Broward County Jail and was sentenced to a year's probation.
Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne said Tuesday there were no records of Padilla requesting to meet with an imam, attending Islamic classes or requesting a name change while incarcerated.
After his release in 1992, Padilla was cited for several traffic violations in South Florida, Broward County officials said. His most recent violation was in November 1997: He did not appear in court, and an arrest warrant was issued in December 1997.
He has been out of the United States, primarily in the Middle East, since 1998. A family friend said Padilla's conversion to Islam came after he married a Muslim woman and moved to the Middle East.
According to court records in Florida, he was divorced from his wife of five years, Cherie Maria Stultz, in March 2001.
The pair married January 2, 1996. She filed for divorce, describing the marriage as "irrevocably broken," and placed an ad in a local business newspaper in January 2001 serving notice she was seeking divorce.
But Broward County court records also show that on July 1, 1994, Padilla changed his name to one word: "Ibrahim." He was married under that name, and divorce papers identify him as Jose Ibrahim Padilla.
Court papers listed several places of employment for Padilla, including a Hilton hotel, a local golf course and a Taco Bell.
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