'Yellowstone' Actress Charged With Fraud

Yellowstone actor Q'orianka Kilcher has been charged with illegally collecting almost $96,838 in disability benefits while working on the Paramount Network show, authorities announced Monday. Kilcher, 32, is facing charges of two felony counts of workers' compensation insurance fraud, according to the California Department of Insurance.

Kilcher appeared in four episodes of Yellowstone, playing Angela Blue Thunder in 2020 episodes of the Kevin Costner-led western drama. She also portrayed Pocahontas in the 2005 movie The New World and is also credited in 2019's Dora and the Lost City of Gold. It was on this set in October 2018 that Kilcher allegedly injured her neck and right shoulder, according to the CDI. A year later, Kilcher allegedly told the doctor handling her insurance claim that while she had been offered work, she was unable to accept it, as she had severe neck pain from her injury, according to the insurance department's statement.

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Because of this, from 2019 through 2021, Kilcher received $96,838 in temporary disability benefits. However, insurance investigators discovered that Kilcher had been filming Yellowstone from July 2019 to October 2019 during a period of time in which she claimed to be disabled, having allegedly told her doctor she had been out of 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 insurance department's statement said.

Kilcher surrendered to authorities and was arraigned in May, according to the statement. Kilcher's attorney, Michael Becker, claimed in a statement to the Associated Press that the actor was injured when she was a passenger in a production vehicle working on 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," he continued.

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The California Department of Insurance is the lead agency investigating workers' compensation insurance fraud, which in the 2020-2021 fiscal year resulted in a potential loss of $161,947,968. Kilcher's next scheduled court date is Aug. 7, 2022.