Woman who called Michelle Obama an 'ape' sentenced to jail for defrauding FEMA of $18K

Pamela Taylor, the ex-West Virginia official who was fired for her remarks about the former first lady, was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison.
IMAGE: West Vrginia storm damage
Debris stacks up at the Old White Course at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in June 2016.Steve Helber / AP file

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By Janelle Griffith

A West Virginia woman who was fired from her job in 2016 after writing a demeaning Facebook post about Michelle Obama was sentenced to prison on Thursday for embezzling more than $18,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster benefits.

Pamela Taylor, 57, who served as director of the Clay County Development Corporation, was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison and two months of home confinement, the U.S. attorney's office said. She was also fined $10,000.

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“Defrauding federal programs is always an egregious act," said Mark Tasky, special agent in charge, U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, in a statement. "Disaster relief fraud is even more serious because of the limited nature of the funds intended to assist Americans in their time of greatest need."

Taylor pleaded guilty in February to falsely registering for more than $18,000 in FEMA disaster benefits after flooding in Clay County, West Virginia, in June 2016. The floods killed 23 people.

Taylor claimed that her primary residence had been damaged in the flood and that she was staying in a rental property, the prosecutor's office said. However, she never moved and still lived in her undamaged home.

“Taylor’s fraudulent scheme took FEMA dollars away from those who needed it the most,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart. “Federal disaster benefits are critical to rebuilding infrastructure, homes and lives — not for lining the pockets of individuals who suffered no loss.”

Taylor repaid $18,149.04 in restitution.

After Donald Trump was elected president, Taylor wrote on Facebook: "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."

She was fired from her job after the November 2016 Facebook post.