A West Virginia public official who drew controversy for referring to Michelle Obama as “a ape in heels” will be spending the next 10 months in federal prison for embezzling FEMA funds meant for victims of flooding disasters.
Pamela Taylor, a 57-year-old Republican, had served as the director of the Clay County Development Corporation, and drew controversy in 2016 for a disparaging post on Facebook speaking out against Michelle Obama and in favor of Melania Trump, the New York Daily News reported.
“It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels,” she wrote.
Taylor was suspended from her position after the statement, while drawing criticism from across the country. Her attack was one of a series of racially charged criticism of the then-president and his wife during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The statement came amid a series of high-profile racial incidents during the 2016 presidential campaign and in its immediate aftermath, but soon after Taylor found herself in even deeper trouble. She was arrested on charges that she embezzled more than $18,000 in FEMA disaster benefits. Prosecutors said that Taylor claimed her primary residence was damaged in a flood and that she was forced to stay in a rental property, but she never actually moved out of her home.
The flooding had a wide-spread impact on Clay County, West Virginia, destroying a number of homes and leaving 23 people dead.
Pamela Taylor gets 10 months in federal prison.
“Woman who called Michelle Obama an 'ape' sentenced to jail for defrauding FEMA of $18K”https://t.co/JUHbryvzff
— Jack (@Jackasaurus3) June 2, 2019
Officials had blasted Taylor for the theft.
“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.”
Many took to social media to praise the sentence against Taylor, with some calling it karma for her unprompted attack on Michelle Obama.
The sentence that Pamela Taylor received was relatively light given the potential punishment she was originally facing. After being charged with defrauding FEMA, Taylor faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. She was already ordered to pay back the $18,149.04 that she had claimed in FEMA funding.