The West Virginia official fired from her county office in 2016 after making racist remarks about then-first lady Michelle Obama is back in the headlines, this time for defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of thousands on dollars.
Pamela Ramsey Taylor, 57, pleaded guilty Monday to cheating FEMA out of more than $18,000 in flood relief benefits intended for those who’d been impacted by the June 2016 floods that killed more than 20 people and ravaged several homes along the Elk River, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.
Taylor registered for the benefits shortly after the flooding, falsely claiming that her home had been damaged and that she was staying in a rental property. However, a press release by U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart‘s office states that her primary residence was undamaged and that she was still living there at the time.
As part of her plea agreement, Taylor admitted to registering with FEMA in July 2016 while at Clay County High School. At the time, she told agency representatives that her primary residence was on Main Street in Clay, W.V., and that her “permanent residence” on the Elk River in Procious had been damaged by the floodwaters. In reality, Taylor lived in the town of Bickmore and her home was never affected.
Although she and her husband owned the property in Procious, no one was living there during the time of the floods.
The lies didn’t stop there, however. Taylor also admitted to giving her work address for the nonprofit Clay County Development Corp. in Clay and telling officials it was her primary address.
The 57-year-old faces up to 30 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine, according to the Gazette-Mail. Under the terms of the agreement, she is also ordered to pay $18,149.04 in restitution.
She is expected to be sentenced by a judge on May 30.
Taylor was booted from her job at the CCDP in December 2016 after she authored a racist social media post likening Obama to an “ape in heels.” It was after the stunning outcome of the Nov. 8 presidential election that Taylor took to Facebook to express relief that Melania Trump, wife of President Donald Trump, would be the nation’s new first lady.
“It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified first lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a [sic] ape in heels,” she wrote.
Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling responded to the post, saying, “Just made my day Pam.”
Whaling faced backlash for responding to the offensive post and would later resign from her position. Meanwhile, state officials reached an agreement with the CCDP’s board of directors to force Taylor out.
Taylor, who was appointed agency director in 2002, has run into trouble in the past and was once fired after being accused of stealing fundraising money, according to a lawsuit deposition reviewed by the Gazette-Mail. She was re-hired a short time later.