Rachel Dolezal, a white woman in Washington state who for years masqueraded as black, has agreed to a plea deal on charges of welfare fraud.
Dolezal agreed to pay full restitution of money she received improperly and to complete 120 hours of community service, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported.
Dolezal had been facing charges of first-degree theft by welfare fraud, second-degree perjury, and false verification for public assistance. If found guilty on all counts, she could have faced up to 15 years in prison, KHQ reported.
Dolezal, who was born to white parents, publicly identified as black and was at one time the president of the Spokane NAACP before she was outed as white in 2015. The episode triggered a national debate over racial identity.
If only I’d known in advance: the woman formerly known as Rachel Dolezal was in court yesterday in Spokane to settle her welfare fraud case. She owes about $9K. https://t.co/AxshW9nk42
— Joel D. Anderson (@byjoelanderson) April 5, 2019
Rachel Dolezal has settled a welfare fraud case against her, agreeing to repay her state $9K. pic.twitter.com/4pIIfV5vvn
— Fox & Friends First (@FoxFriendsFirst) April 5, 2019
According to court documents, beginning in 2015 Dolezal claimed that she was living on about $300 a month and gifts from friends, KXLY reported.
When a Department of Social and Health Services investigated, a different story was unearthed.
Between August 2015 and August 2017, Dolezal deposited about $84,000 into her bank account, court documents said. Most of the money was generated from the book she wrote about her life, with some revenue from the sale of art and handmade soap.
During that time, she had collected $8,847 in benefits.
Dolezal, who changed her name to Nkechi Diallo in 2017, was charged in May. Dolezal still uses the name Dolezal to sell her artwork via Twitter.
Under the plea deal, Dolezal could face a trial if she does not comply with the terms of the agreement, including the required community service and drug and alcohol testing.
“I think it’s a fair and equitable resolution of the matter. I don’t believe she tried to obtain benefits that she wasn’t entitled to,” Bevan Maxey, Dolezal’s lawyer, told KXLY Thursday.
“Needless to say, she’s been through a lot. I believe this is the appropriate way to solve it. I think she’s anxious to move beyond this and move forward with a productive life. She’s a very intelligent and creative woman.”
Dolezal, 41, had been employed teaching African studies at Eastern Washington University prior to the revelation that she was actually white.
After the truth became known, she was fired.
Dolezal was outed as white by her parents, from whom she was estranged, The New York Times noted.
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