CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — A Clay County woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling more than $18,000 in federal disaster benefits, federal prosecutors said.
Pamela Taylor, 57, admitted that she falsely registered for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster benefits after the June 2016 flood in Clay County, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of West Virginia.
Taylor claimed that her primary residence was damaged by the flood and that she was staying in a rental unit after the flood. Prosecutors said her primary residence was undamaged, and she still resided there.
Due to her false statements, she received more than $18,000 in FEMA benefits to which she was not entitled, prosecutors said.
In her plea agreement, Taylor agreed to pay restitution of more than $18,100.
“The flood was a natural disaster. Stealing from FEMA is a manmade disaster,” U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said. “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.”
Taylor faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 when she is sentenced May 30.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General and the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations.
In December 2016, Taylor made national headlines after she referred to former First Lady Michelle Obama as "a ape in heels" in a Facebook post. Taylor was working for the Clay County Development Corporation at the time, but was removed as its director.