Dolezal's new identity: welfare-fraud felon?

Go figure that a woman who fraudulently misrepresented her ethnicity might also fraudulently misrepresent her income. Rachel Dolezal lost her job as president of the Spokane NAACP when her parents outed her as a white poseur during a family dispute. Now the government has charged her with felony welfare fraud for illegally claiming nearly $9000 in benefits since her very public disgrace:

Former Spokane Chapter NAACP President Rachel Dolezal is now facing legal trouble that could land her behind bars. KHQ has confirmed that Dolezal, who legally changed her name to Nkechi Diallo in 2016, is accused of 1st Degree Theft by Welfare Fraud, Perjury in the 2nd Degree, and False Verification for Public Assistance. Her potential punishment under RCW 74.08.331 could include up to 15 years in prison.

Because Dolezal changed her name, we’ll be referring to her as Nkechi Diallo. According to court documents, Diallo illegally received $8,747 in food assistance, and illegally received $100 in childcare assistance. Total restitution, according to the documents, is $8,847, allegedly stolen from August 2015 through November 2017.

August 2015, eh? Let’s review the timeline. At the beginning of June 2015, Dolezal not only ran Spokane’s NAACP chapter, she also taught “Africana education” at Eastern Washington University, and sat on the police ombudsman council. By the end of the month, she was out the door on all three, and by early 2017 was telling the Guardian that she’d soon be homeless:

Today Dolezal is jobless, and feeding her family with food stamps. A friend helped her pay this month’s rent; next month she expects to be homeless. She has applied for more than 100 jobs, but no one will hire her, not even to stack supermarket shelves. She applied for a position at the university where she used to teach, and says she was interviewed by former colleagues who pretended to have no recollection of having met her. The only work she has been offered is reality TV, and porn. She has changed her name on all her legal documents, but is still recognised wherever she goes. People point at her and laugh.

The 39-year-old says she can count the friends she has left in town on her fingers. “Right now the only place that I feel understood and completely accepted is with my kids and my sister.” She has written a memoir, titled In Full Color, but 30 publishing houses turned her down before she found one willing to print it. “The narrative was that I’d offended both communities in an unforgivable way, so anybody who gave me a dime would be contributing to wrong and oppression and bad things. To a liar and a fraud and a con.”

And guess what? They were right! A probe of her welfare applications showed that she had a lot of income she never reported, including from that same memoir she mentioned to the Guardian:

The investigator conducted a review of Diallo’s records and found she’d been reporting her income was usually less than $500 per month, in child support payments. At one point when asked as to how she was paying her bills, she reported, “Barely! With help from friends and gifts.”

However, a subpoena for her self-employment records, which included copies of her bank statements from 2015 to present, tells a different story. The bank records, court documents say, showed Diallo had deposited about $83,924 into her bank account in several monthly installments between August 2015 and September 2017, without reporting the income to the Department of Social and Health Services. The money, according to the case file, had come from authoring her book, ‘In Full Color,’ speaking engagements, soap making, doll making, and the sale of her art.

Dolezal/Diallo could face a long prison stretch, but she’s more likely to get a lesser sentence if she cooperates and pays restitution. She has lost eligibility for any income assistance for at least a year, according to court filings, for an “intentional” violation of program regulations. Even if she never serves a day behind bars for this fraud, though, it should put an end to any pretense Dolezal/Diallo offers about her intent in deceiving people about her ethnicity. She’s a con woman, and a rather successful one — until people finally performed due diligence on her claims.