Former NAACP Chapter President Rachel Dolezal Facing Felony Welfare Fraud Charges

Officials: Former activist bilked almost $9,000 in benefits as her bank account grew.

Nicholas K. Geranios / AP Images

Officials: Former activist bilked almost $9,000 in benefits as her bank account grew.

The “transracial” woman that served for a time as president of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter in Spokane, Washington, is facing up to 15 years in prison for alleged welfare fraud.

Rachel Dolezal, the Caucasian woman who claimed to be black and ran her local NAACP chapter until 2015, is now charged with three counts of theft by welfare fraud, perjury, and making false claims to collect public assistance, the Washington Times reported Thursday.

According to the Times, Dolezal obtained some $8,800 in food and childcare help from the state by declaring her a monthly income of less than $500 in child support payments.

State officials, however, tracked her bank records and found that she had deposited more than $83,000 in several monthly installments going back to August 2015, according to the article.

Dolezal became somewhat of a national celebrity for claiming she was black and running the NAACP chapter, only to have her parents publicly contend that she was really white.

The revelations not only made her resign from the chapter presidency, but she also lost a university teaching position and a seat on a police ombudsman commission, according to the Times.

She has since legally changed her name to Nkechi Diallo and wrote a book about her experiences called In Full Color.

  Nicholas K. Geranios / AP Photo

“It’s not a costume,” Dolezal said in a 2015 Vanity Fair story.

“I don’t know spiritually and metaphysically how this goes, but I do know that from my earliest memories I have awareness and connection with the black experience, and that’s never left me. It’s not something that I can put on and take off anymore. Like I said, I’ve had my years of confusion and wondering who I really [was] and why and how do I live my life and make sense of it all, but I’m not confused about that any longer. I think the world might be—but I’m not.”

In 2017, she said that while she was biologically white, she had a “black identity,” the article said.

According to the article, officials believe the sales of the book as well as speaking engagements, art sales, doll and soap making led to the funds regularly going into her bank account.

The Times reported that she withheld information about her finances from the state’s Department of Social and Health Services in order to qualify for the benefits.

According to the Times, she could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the charges.