Koreana Kilcher, an actress who appeared in “The New World” and “Yellowstone,” is facing criminal charges for allegedly collecting disability benefits despite being able to work.
Kilcher has been charged with two serious charges of workers’ compensation fraud. She reportedly collected $96,838 in benefits after injuring her neck and shoulder during the filming of “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.”
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But investigators from the California Department of Insurance found she was healthy enough to work at “Yellowstone” the following year, during a time she claimed she was disabled, according to a news release issued by the department on Monday.
The department announced the charges on Monday, although Kilcher pleaded guilty and pleaded not guilty on May 27. DiversityHer attorney denied the allegations, saying that Kilcher “never knowingly accepted benefits she did not believe she was entitled to.”
“As such, Ms. Kilcher will vigorously defend herself and ask that she be presumed of innocence both inside and outside the courthouse,” said attorney Michael Baker.
Kilcher is best known for portraying Pocahontas in the 2005 film “The New World” directed by Terrence Malick. She also appeared in the title role of “Princess Kaulani”, a 2009 film about the colonization of Hawaii; and played the role of Kavilaka, an Inca princess, in the 2019 film “Dora”. She appeared in four episodes of “Yellowstone” during season three, which aired in 2020.
Kilcher reportedly injured his neck and right shoulder during the shooting of the movie “Dora” in October 2018. Her lawyer said she was a passenger in a production vehicle when she was hurt.
According to the insurance department, she went to a doctor after some time, but stopped getting treatment and did not respond to inquiries from her employer’s insurance company.
According to the department, a year later in October 2019, Kilcher reached out to the insurer for treatment. She reportedly told the doctor who handled her claim that her neck pain had become so severe that she was forced to quit, and had not worked for a year. The department said it quickly began receiving temporary total disability benefits.
Investigators later reviewed the pay details and found that Kilcher worked at “Yellowstone” from July 2019 to October 2019, just before seeking treatment. According to the department, Kilcher had finished this work just five days before she started collecting benefits. The department alleged that the doctor later said that if he had known about his recent work history, he would never have cleared the payment.
Kilcher’s attorney denied that she had ever been a fraud.
“Third-party doctors confirmed her injury and entitlement to benefits,” Baker said in the statement. “MS. Kilcher always spoke openly with her doctors and treatment providers.
The attorney said he also provided regular updates to his caseworkers in the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Prosecutor Christopher Hartman of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is looking into the case. Kilcher’s next scheduled court date is August 7.
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