Former West Virginia Official Who Called Michelle Obama an ‘Ape in Heels’ Headed to Prison for FEMA Fraud

Pamela Taylor, a former Clay County Development Corp. director who became known for her racist insult against former First Lady Michelle Obama, is going to jail.

“Pamela Taylor, 57, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, two months of home confinement, and a $10,000 fine for making multiple false statements to FEMA and causing the agency to provide her with over $18,000 in fraudulent, undeserved benefits,” the office of U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart of the Southern District of West Virginia said, in a press release on Thursday.

“Taylor admitted that she falsely registered for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster benefits after the June 2016 flood in Clay County, West Virginia. Taylor claimed that her primary residence was damaged by the flood and that she was staying in a rental unit after the flood. In fact, her primary residence was undamaged, and she still resided there. Due to her false statements, she received more than $18,000 in FEMA benefits to which she was not entitled.”

The flooding killed 23 people in West Virginia in June 2016.

The same year she was committing fraud, the presidential election took place. Taylor posted on Facebook referencing Melania Trump’s impending tenure at the White House: “It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an Ape in heels.”

In West Virginia, 68.7 percent of the population voted for Trump on Election Day. Clay County showed even more support for Trump, with more than three-quarters of residents voting for him. Clay County is nearly 100 percent white, according to U.S. Census Data, and just 0.2 percent Black.

Taylor was suspended from her job after the posting went viral in 2016, but the corporation later announced that she would be returning to her position.

“There’s no such thing as a little bit of FEMA fraud,” Stuart said. “Taylor’s fraudulent scheme took FEMA dollars away from those who needed it the most. Federal disaster benefits are critical to rebuilding infrastructure, homes, and lives – not for lining the pockets of individuals who suffered no loss.”

Taylor has already paid $18,149.04 in restitution.


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