Pamela Taylor made national headlines in 2016 when the Republican official from West Virginia shared a social media post calling first lady Michelle Obama "a ape in heels."
Now, Taylor has pleaded guilty to defrauding FEMA out of more than $18,000 in funds meant for people struck by natural disasters, and could be spending the next 30 years in prison.
As WSAZ reported, the former director of development for Clay County pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $18,000 in benefits meant for victims of flooding in June of 2016 that caused widespread property damaged and left some people dead. The 57-year-old Republican official admitted in court that she falsely registered for some of the disaster benefits, claiming that her primary residence was damaged by flooding, forcing her to live in a rental unit. But investigators found that Taylor's home was never damaged and that she was living in her home all along.
"The flood was a natural disaster. Stealing from FEMA is a man-made disaster," said U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart in a news release. "The floods of June 2016 were historic and devastating to thousands of West Virginians. Lives were lost. Too many of our brothers and sisters lost everything. FEMA dollars are critical but limited. Stealing critical FEMA dollars is a crime – literally and figuratively. Taylor's fraud scheme diverted disaster benefits from our most desperate and vulnerable, those most in need of help."
Pamela Taylor had made national headlines in 2016 when she posted a message on Facebook that included a racist attack on Michelle Obama. As WSAZ reported at at the time, Taylor wrote the following.
"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."
Taylor's post attracted nationwide attention, and Taylor ended up being suspended from her position. The post came amid an upswing in racist incidents during the campaign and subsequent election of Donald Trump. Many blamed this on Trump's fiery and often racially charge rhetoric, which was picked up by many of his supporters.
Taylor's arrest this week drew quite a bit of attention as well, with many celebrating her facing consequences for the fraud against FEMA and deeming it "karma" for her past statements against Michelle Obama.Pamela Taylor faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 when she is sentenced in May. She will also be ordered to pay back the $18,149.04 that she had claimed in FEMA funding.