A former West Virginia official who was ousted after calling Michelle Obama an 'ape in heels' admitted to defrauding FEMA out of $18,000

Lt. Dennis Feazell, of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, rows his boat as he and a co worker search flooded homes after floods hit the state in June 2016 (file photo).Lt. Dennis Feazell, of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, rows his boat as he and a co worker search flooded homes after floods hit the state in June 2016 (file photo).AP Photo/Steve Helber

  • Pamela Taylor, 57, admitted to falsely registering for more than $18,000 in FEMA disaster relief benefits following West Virginia flooding in 2016, the Department of Justice said.
  • The Department of Justice said Taylor claimed to have lost her house in the flood, but an investigation revealed she was still living in the home she claimed was damaged.
  • She faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of as much as $500,000 when she is sentenced in May.
  • In 2016, Taylor lost her job with the Clay County Development Corporation after calling then-first lady Michelle Obama an "ape in heels" in a Facebook post.

A former West Virginia official who lost her job after calling Michelle Obama an "ape in heels" has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) out of more than $18,000.

Pamela Taylor, 57, last week admitted to falsely registering for more than $18,000 in FEMA disaster relief benefits after historic flooding devastated Clay County, West Virginia, in June 2016, according to a Department of Justice press release.

According to the Department of Justice, Taylor claimed her home was damaged by the floods and that she had to live in a rental unit. In reality, her home was undamaged and she had never moved, the Department of Justice said.

She pleaded guilty to embezzlement after an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the state Commission on Special Investigations revealed her home had not been damaged, the Huffington Post reported.

As part of a plea agreement on Tuesday, Taylor agreed to pay restitution of $18,149.04.

She faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of as much as $500,000 when she's sentenced in May.

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"The flood was a natural disaster. Stealing from FEMA is a manmade disaster," U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said in a statement published in the Department of Justice's press release. "Taylor's fraud scheme diverted disaster benefits from our most desperate and vulnerable, those most in need of help."

Special Agent in Charge Mark Tasky of DHS-OIG said in the Department of Justice's press release that taking advantage of funds "misappropriates taxpayer dollars, reduces monies available to true victims, and erodes public confidence in relief programs."

"In July 2016, after the good people of West Virginia were devastated by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides the month prior, the Defendant knowingly submitted a fraudulent application for disaster relief, in order to enrich herself and divert critical funds away from true disaster victims," Tasky said.

Taylor was ousted from her job as director of the Clay County Development Corporation in 2016, when she wrote a racist remark about then-first lady Michelle Obama on Facebook.

The comment came after President Donald Trump won the 2016 election, according to NBC News.

"It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House," she said, apparently commenting on Melania Trump becoming first lady. "I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels."

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