Former Spokane Chapter NAACP President Rachel Dolezal is now facing legal trouble that could land her behind bars.
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.
The investigation into Diallo's alleged theft started in March 2017 when a DSHS Office of Fraud and Accountability investigator received information that Diallo had written a book that got published. The investigator said he'd heard Diallo say she was getting public assistance, but also knew that a typical publishing contract included payments of $10,000 to $20,000.
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.
During the course of the investigation, Diallo did report a "change of circumstance" to the Department of Social and Health Services, saying she did a one-time job in October of 2017 worth $20,000, and Diallo voluntarily came in for an interview with fraud investigators last month. But when questioned about possible discrepancies in her income reporting, Diallo stated she "fully disclosed her information and asked, 'what discrepancies?". Diallo then told the investigator that she "did not have to answer" any more questions, since she had not waived her Miranda rights, which ended the interview.
According to the court documents, "The state of Washington seeks prosecution and restitution in this 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. This is known as an Intentional Program Violation."