Rachel Dolezal Faces Felony Charges of Welfare Fraud in Washington State
The charges could lead to 15 years in prison.
Rachel Dolezal is facing a felony theft charge related to alleged welfare fraud.
The former NAACP local chapter leader, who is white but posed as a black woman, has been accused of first-degree theft by welfare fraud, second-degree perjury and false verification for public assistance by authorities in Washington state.
Dolezal could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted, according to KHQ.
Court documents allege Dolezal, who has legally changed her name to Nkechi Diallo, illegally received $8,747 in food assistance and $100 in child care assistance starting in August 2015 up until November 2017.
Investigators began looking into Dolezal's finances after learning she'd written a book, according to The Associated Press. Upon reviewing records, they reportedly found that she'd been listing her income as less than $500 per month.
However, subpoenaed records allegedly revealed bank statements showing Dolezal deposited nearly $84,000 into her bank account during the same period she was receiving public assistance. Those funds are believed to have come from the book, "In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World," and the sale of items like handmade dolls and soap on her website.
At one point, however, she reported a "change of circumstance" that disclosed she did a one-time job in October 2017 worth $20,000, court documents obtained by The Associated Press said.
Dolezal did not report the income to the Department of Social and Health Services and made false statements to collect welfare, prosecutors allege.
When questioned about the income, court documents show that Dolezal told an investigator she had "fully disclosed her information" and declined to discuss the issue further.
The state of Washington said it is seeking prosecution and restitution in the matter.
"In addition, the Department requests Nkechi Diallo be disqualified from receiving Food Assistance for at least a 12-month period for breaking a Food Assistance rule on purpose," the state wrote in court documents.
Dolezal was a black activist and leader of a local NAACP chapter until her parents revealed in 2015 that she was a white woman posing as black.
As a result, she resigned from both the NAACP post and as a police ombudsman. She was also fired from her job as an African studies professor at Eastern Washington University.
Dolezal has said in several interviews since that she identifies as a member of the African-American community.
Dolezal's life is the subject of the documentary "The Rachel Divide," which is currently streaming on Netflix. In it, she sheds additional light on her racial identity.
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