A former West Virginia official ousted from her county job after calling former first lady Michelle Obama an “ape in heels” has admitted to defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of more than $18,000.
Pamela Taylor, who once directed the Clay County Development Corp., pleaded guilty to embezzlement Tuesday and agreed to repay the $18,149 disaster benefits she lied to receive. She was charged after a probe by the Department of Homeland Security and the state Commission on Special Investigations.
Taylor falsely registered for benefits after floods devastated the county in June 2016, according to a Department of Justice press release. She lied that her home was damaged, forcing her to move into a rental unit, when in fact she had been staying in her primary residence all along.
“The flood was a natural disaster. Stealing from FEMA is a manmade disaster,” U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said. “Taylor’s fraud scheme diverted disaster benefits from our most desperate and vulnerable, those most in need of help.”
Stuart said his office “takes heinous acts like stealing from disaster relief funds very seriously and will prosecute each and every case brought to us to the maximum extent of the law.”
Taylor was fired from her county job following President Donald Trump’s election in 2016, when she wrote the racist remark about Obama, then first lady, on Facebook.
She faces up to 30 years imprisonment and a fine of as much as $500,000 when she’s sentenced in May.