Rachel Dolezal Probe Began Because She Allegedly Failed to Report Book Deal as Income

The cover of Rachel Dolezal's memoir "In Full Color."
BenBella Books

Washington state authorities allege that Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP leader exposed as a white woman pretending to be black, was first suspected of welfare fraud when she allegedly failed to report any income as an advance on her 2017 memoir.

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, according to court documents.

Kyle Bunge of the Washington Department of Social and Health Services writes that Diallo illegally received $8,747 in food assistance and $100 in child care assistance from August 2015 through November 2017.

Bunge says that a colleague in the department’s Office of Fraud and Accountability found out in March 2017 that Diallo had signed a book deal with BenBella books. The investigator looked into the publisher and found that their standard contract gives authors a $10,000 to $20,000 advance, according to Bunge.

He further alleges that 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 the majority of it to the Department of Social and Health Services.

That 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, Bunge writes.

The former NAACP leader allegedly told investigators in December 2, 2017 that she was contracted to earn $5,000 and was given a $15,000 bonus – a total of$20,000. Hours later, Authorities sent Diallo a letter demanding verification of the payment agreement.

Bunge and another investigator met Diallo face-to-face on April 26, 2018. When asked about financial discrepancies in her fillings, he writes, Diallo simply stated she “fully disclosed her information,” then asked, “what discrepancies?”

Bunge says Diallo became uncooperative in answering additional questions.

“The state of Washington seeks prosecution and restitution in this matter,” Bunge concludes. “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. This is known as an Intentional Program Violation.”

Under state law RCW 74.08.331, Diallo could be facing up to 15 years in jail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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