Would someone really lie about not being able to work when their job is to be on one of the most watched cable-TV shows ever? It seems unlikely, but according to California officials, it happened. Per the Los Angeles Times, the California Department of Insurance charged actress Q’orianka Kilcher with two felony counts of workers’-compensation fraud on Monday. She is accused of collecting more than $96,000 in disability benefits for being too injured to work after an investigation found she was working on Yellowstone during that time. Kilcher was arraigned in May and has pleaded not guilty.
In 2018, the actress allegedly injured her neck and shoulder while filming Dora and the Lost City of Gold, the live-action Dora the Explorer movie. According to the California Department of Insurance, she saw a doctor “a few times that year” but stopped treatment and “did not respond to the insurance company handling her claim on behalf of her employer.” The next year, she contacted an insurance company and requested treatment. “Kilcher told the doctor handling her claim that she had been offered work since her injury occurred but had been unable to accept it because her neck pain was too severe,” the department said in a statement. “Based on Kilcher’s statements to the doctor, she began receiving temporary total disability benefits.” Insurance officials claim she was ultimately paid $96,838 between October 2019 and September 2021. She starred as Angela Blue Thunder in several episodes of the third season of Yellowstone that aired in 2020 but were filmed from July to October 2019. The department alleges she began receiving disability payments five days after wrapping the show, and the doctor was not made aware of her recent employment history.
Kilcher’s attorney, Michael Becker, said in a statement to USA Today that her injury and entitlement to benefits were verified by third-party doctors. “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,” he said, adding that his client will “vigorously defend herself and asks that she be afforded the presumption of innocence both in and outside the courthouse.” Her next court date is scheduled for August 7.