Actor Q’Orianka Kilcher, who featured on the TV show Yellowstone and is best known for portraying Pocahontas in the 2005 film The New World, has been charged with illegally collecting nearly US$97,000 (about $130,000) in disability benefits.
Kilcher, 32, of North Hollywood is charged with two felony counts of workers’ compensation insurance fraud, according to a Monday press release from the California Department of Insurance (CDI).
In October 2018, Kilcher allegedly injured her neck and right shoulder while working on the set of the 2019 film Dora and the Lost City of Gold.
After consulting a doctor a few times that year, Kilcher stopped treatment. A year later, in October 2019, Kilcher reached out to the insurance company handling her claim and said she needed further medical help, according to the press release. The CDI says she told a doctor that she had severe neck pain and could not accept work because of the severity of her injury.
“Based on Kilcher’s statements to the doctor, she began receiving temporary total disability benefits,” the press release reads.
Between 2019 and 2021, Kilcher received $96,838 in temporary disability benefits.
The CDI says an investigation into Kilcher’s claim, however, revealed that during the time of her purported disability she worked as an actress on Yellowstone, where she portrayed Angela Blue Thunder for four episodes alongside Kevin Costner.
Her stint on the set of Yellowstone ran from July 2019 to October 2019, despite her telling her doctor that she had been unable to work for a year.
“According to records, she returned to the doctor and started receiving disability benefits five days after last working on the show,” the statement said.
Kilcher surrendered and was arraigned on the charges in May, according to the California Department of Insurance.
Michael Becker, Kilcher’s attorney, said the actor was a passenger in a production vehicle when she was hurt during the filming of Dora.
“Third-party doctors verified her injury and entitlement to benefits. Ms. Kilcher was at all times candid with her doctors and treatment providers … and she never intentionally accepted benefits that she did not believe she was entitled to,” Becker said.
Kilcher will “vigorously defend herself and asks that she be afforded the presumption of innocence both in and outside the courthouse,” Becker said.
In 2010, Kilcher was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for tying herself to a White House fence. Her mother was arrested alongside her and the pair told authorities they were protesting a visit by the president of Peru. Kilcher’s father is an Indigenous person from Peru.
— with files from The Associated Press
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