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By Janelle Griffith
The West Virginia woman who made national headlines in 2016 when she was placed on leave from a county development organization over a demeaning Facebook post about then-first lady Michelle Obama has now pleaded guilty to defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of thousands of dollars of disaster benefits.
Pamela Taylor, 57, admitted on Tuesday that she falsely registered for more than $18,000 in FEMA disaster benefits after historic flooding in Clay County, West Virginia, in June 2016, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement. Those floods killed 23 people.
Taylor claimed that her primary residence was damaged in the flood and that she was staying in a rental property, the prosecutor’s office said. Her home was not damaged, however, and she still lived there.
“The flood was a natural disaster,” U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said in the statement. “Stealing from FEMA is a manmade disaster.”
In her plea agreement, Taylor agreed to pay restitution of $18,149.04.
She faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 when she is sentenced on May 30.
Taylor could not immediately be reached for comment.
Taylor’s name and residences match those of the Pamela Taylor who was fired from her job as director of the Clay County Development Corporation after the November 2016 Facebook post, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Taylor published a controversial post about Obama following Donald Trump’s election as president that said: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”