SPOKANE, Wash. — A former NAACP leader in Washington state whose life unraveled after she was exposed as a white woman pretending to be black has been charged with welfare fraud.
Rachel Dolezal, who legally changed her name to Nkechi Diallo in 2016, was charged this week with theft by welfare fraud, perjury and false verification for public assistance, Spokane news station KHQ-TV reported Thursday.
She illegally received $8,747 in food assistance and $100 in child care assistance from August 2015 through November 2017, court documents said.
An investigation started in March 2017 when a Washington state investigator received information that Diallo had written a book. The investigator reviewed Diallo’s records and found that she had been reporting her income as usually less than $500 per month, court documents said.
A subpoena for her self-employment records, which included copies of her bank statements, showed Diallo had deposited nearly $84,000 into her bank account between August 2015 and September 2017, without reporting most of it to the Department of Social and Health Services.
The money came from authoring her memoir, “In Full Color,” speaking engagements, soap making, doll making, and the sale of her art, according to the case file.
Diallo did report a “change of circumstance” to the state agency, saying she did a one-time job in October 2017 worth $20,000, court documents said.
The former civil rights activist told investigators she “fully disclosed her information” and declined to answer further questions, the documents said.
She has said previously that she grew up near Troy, Montana, with religious parents and that she began to change her perspective as a teenager, after her parents adopted four black children. She decided to become publicly black years later, after a divorce.
The ruse worked for years until 2015, when her parents, with whom she has long feuded, told reporters that their daughter was white but was presenting herself as a black activist in the Spokane region.
The story became an international sensation, and she was fired as head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP and kicked off a police ombudsman commission. She also lost her job teaching African studies at Eastern Washington University.