CHARLESTON – The Clay County woman who made a national stir in late 2016 when she called then first lady Michelle Obama “a Ape in heels” is set to be sentenced May 30 after pleading guilty to defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Pamela Ramsey Taylor, 57, faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. She also has agreed to pay back the more than $18,000 in FEMA benefits she received.
In federal court last week, Taylor admitted to illegally registering for FEMA disaster benefits after the flooding in June of 2016 that killed 23 people and damaged numerous properties across central and southern West Virginia.
At the time, she said her Clay County home was damaged by the flood and she was forced to live in a rental property, but her home wasn’t damaged and she was still living there, a Homeland Security investigation found.
“The flood was a natural disaster. Stealing from FEMA is a manmade disaster,” U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said in a statement.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail found that Taylor’s name and residences match those of the woman who made headlines for a racist Facebook post.
After Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, Taylor – then the director of the nonprofit Clay County Development Corp. – posted: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”
The nonprofit provides services to elderly and low-income residents in Clay County. It is funded through state and federal grants and local fees.
Beverly Whaling, then the mayor of Clay, responded to Taylor’s post: “Just made my day Pam.” She resigned following backlash.
Taylor was removed from the position in December 2016 after state officials reached an agreement with the agency’s board of directors. Officials from the Bureau for Senior Services said at the time the agency was not following nonprofit law. Her Facebook post was not mentioned as a reason for her dismissal.