(06/05/2021)
A former Clay County economic development official who made national headlines after making a racist comment about former first lady Michelle Obama was sentenced to federal prison on an embezzlement case.

The Clay Communicator and the Hur Herald first published the story, the Herald getting a record number of visitors, 500,000.

Pamela Taylor was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Irene Berger Thursday to 10 months in federal prison. She also must pay a $10,000 fine.

Once she is released from prison, she must serve three years of supervised release – the first two months of that supervised released must be served on home confinement. Taylor already has paid $18,000 in restitution. She will allowed to self-report to prison. No time, date or location have been specified yet.

In February, Taylor pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $18,000 in federal disaster benefits, federal prosecutors said.

Taylor made national headlines in December 2016 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.

In the embezzlement case, Taylor 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 man-made disaster," U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said at the time. “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.”

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General and the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations.

See   CLAY MAYOR RESIGNS FOLLOWING RACIST FACEBOOK COMMENTS BY DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR - Described Michelle Obama As "A Ape In High Heels," Development Director Still On Job">

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