UPDATE | Woman who made racist Obama post sentenced for embezzling flood benefits
A woman from Clay County, known for making a
about former first lady Michelle Obama in 2016, is heading to prison after embezzling flood disaster benefits.
A judge sentenced Pamela Taylor, the former Clay County development director, to 10 months in federal prison and a $10,000 fine. She was also sentenced to home confinement for the first two months after she gets out of prison and supervised release for three years.
Taylor falsely registered for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster benefits after flooding in Clay County.
killed 23 people in West Virginia and damaged thousands of homes and buildings across the state in June 2016.
Investigators say Taylor claimed that her primary residence was damaged by the flood. She also claimed that she stayed in a rental unit after the flood.
As it turns out, according to investigators, Taylor’s home wasn’t damaged at all and she was still living there. She embezzled more than $18,000.
A woman from Clay County pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $18,000 in FEMA disaster benefits after the devastating June 2016 floods that claimed lives and significant property, U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart’s Office says.
Pamela Taylor, 57, admitted that she falsely registered for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster benefits after flooding in Clay County.
Sources tell us she's the same Pamela Taylor, the former development director in Clay County, who made national headlines in 2016 after she made a racist post about former first lady Michelle Obama. She was suspended before later returning to that position.
In the FEMA embezzlement case, investigators say Taylor claimed that her primary residence was damaged by the flood. She also claimed that she stayed in a rental unit after the flood.
As it turns out, according to investigators, Taylor’s home wasn’t damaged at all and she was still living there.
In a plea agreement, Taylor agreed to pay restitution of $18,149.04.
“The flood was a natural disaster. Stealing from FEMA is a man-made disaster,” Stuart said 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.”
Taylor faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 when she is sentenced May 30.
"It's horrible. It's one of the most horrible things you will ever go through in your life,” said Susan Jack.
This is how Jack describes the devastating floods that impacted her hometown of Clendenin.
She, like so many others, had damage to her property and ended up having to dispose of a lot of it.
When the flooding happened, she was getting ready to move at the end of the month and instead stayed behind to help her neighbors.
"The people here have worked extremely hard. We try to help each other whenever we can,” she said.
The community has done their best to help each other as some still wait for checks from FEMA, something that Pamela Taylor of nearby Clay County didn't have to do.
She received 18,000 dollars in FEMA benefits for her home that was not even damaged.
"That just takes money away from the people that deserve it,” said Paul Richard.
Richard says he's still waiting for buyout money from FEMA for his former home in Clendenin.
But this is not the first time that Pamela Taylor has made headlines.
A source confirms that this is the same Pamela Taylor who called former first lady Michelle Obama an “ape in heels” back in 2016 when Taylor was the director of Clay County Development.
For those who are still waiting on their money, they say others receiving money falsely is hardly a surprise.
"Just depressing, the whole situation, the promises, the lies,” said Clendenin resident Bill Sloan.
Despite the hardships, the community has grown closer and stronger together.
"It’s been a long haul and we're all survivors,” said Jack.