LOS ANGELES -- “Yellowstone” actress Q’Orianka Kilcher has been charged with two felony counts of workers’ compensation fraud, California officials announced Monday.
Kilcher, 32, is accused of collecting over $96,000 in disability benefits despite having worked on the popular Kevin Costner-led drama for several months during the time that she said she was too injured to work.
She self-surrendered and was arraigned in May, California Department of Insurance officials said. She pleaded not guilty to the charges last month, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.
In 2018, Kilcher reportedly injured her neck and shoulder while filming “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” a live-action adaptation of the children’s TV show “Dora the Explorer.”
Kilcher saw a doctor “a few times that year” but allegedly stopped attending treatment and “did not respond to the insurance company handling her claim on behalf of her employer,” according to the Department of Insurance.
In October 2019, Kilcher contacted the insurance company and requested treatment, telling the doctor “that she had been offered work since her injury occurred but had been unable to accept it” due to the severity of her neck pain, the department said.
Based on those statements, insurance officials said, she was paid temporary total disability benefits — $96,838 between October 2019 and September 2021.
“After reviewing wage information from her employer, the investigation found Kilcher had worked as an actress on the television show ‘Yellowstone’ from July 2019 to October 2019, despite her statements to the doctor that she had been unable to work for a year,” the department said.
The doctor said that the disability payments would not have been authorized “if they had been aware” of Kilcher’s recent employment history, according to the Department of Insurance, which said records show that Kilcher started receiving benefits five days after last working on the show.
“Third-party doctors verified her injury and entitlement to benefits. Ms. Kilcher was at all times candid with her doctors and treatment providers. … She never intentionally accepted benefits that she did not believe she was entitled to,” her attorney Michael 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.
Kilcher played Angela Blue Thunder in the third season of “Yellowstone,” one of TV’s most popular dramas. The season aired on the Paramount Network in 2020.
She broke out in 2005 for her portrayal of Pocahontas in the acclaimed period piece “The New World,” directed by Terrence Malick and co-starring Colin Farrell and Christian Bale.