A West Virginia official who lost her job after penning a defamatory social media post about Michelle Obama was sentenced to federal jail time Thursday after prosecutors say she swindled the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of thousand of dollars in disaster relief benefits.
Pamela Taylor, former head of the the Clay County Development Corporation, was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison, along with two months of house arrest, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She was also hit with a $10,000 fine.
The disgraced county official pleaded guilty in February to embezzling more than $18,000 in FEMA benefits intended for residents impacted by the devastating floods that ravaged homes along the Elk River in July 2016.
The disaster claimed 23 lives and left a trail of destruction in its path.
“Defrauding federal programs is always an egregious act,” special agent Mark Tasky of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, said 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.”
Prosecutors said Taylor, 57, registered for the benefits not long after the floods, claiming her primary residence had been damaged and that she was staying in a rental property. In reality, Taylor’s home was undamaged and she never moved.
Not only did she lie about her home being damaged, but she put down her work address at the Clay County nonprofit as her primary address.
“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.”
So far, Taylor has repaid $18,149.04 in restitution, NBC News reported.
It was after the unexpected election of President Donald Trump to the White House that Taylor took to Facebook to express relief that Melania 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,” she wrote. “I’m tired of seeing a ape in heels.”
Wilson was fired from her job in December 2016 after authoring the racist post.