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She Insulted Michelle Obama. Now, a Guilty Plea

Pamela Taylor, who called ex-first lady 'ape in heels,' admits taking money from FEMA
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2019 12:07 PM CST
FEMA signs direct residents in Rainelle, W. Va., on Aug. 23, 2016.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(Newser) – "The flood was a natural disaster. Stealing from FEMA is a manmade disaster." Per a DOJ release, that's US Attorney Mike Stuart speaking on the case of Pamela Taylor, a 57-year-old from West Virginia who made headlines in 2016 for calling then-first lady Michelle Obama an "ape in heels" in a Facebook post. Taylor ended up losing her nonprofit job over that incident and has been out of the spotlight since, but she's back in it now after pleading guilty to defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of more than $18,000 in disaster benefits, NBC News reports. Taylor had claimed that, during flooding in June 2016 in Clay County, her primary home had been damaged to the point she had to leave it for a rental unit, prosecutors say.

That wasn't the case, the DOJ release notes: She actually kept living at her primary residence, while collecting the FEMA benefits she shouldn't have received. "Taking advantage of federal funds intended for disaster relief misappropriates taxpayer dollars, reduces monies available to true victims, and erodes public confidence in relief programs," a DHS special agent says in the release. As part of her plea deal, Taylor has agreed to pay back the money she received, but the cost to her could be much stiffer at her May sentencing: She could see up to 30 years behind bars and up to a $500,000 fine. (Read more Michelle Obama stories.)

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