Michelle Obama ( PA )
A former West Virginia official who was fired after calling former first lady Michelle Obama an "ape in heels" has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for fraud.
Pamela Taylor, who made the racist remarks about Ms Obama back in 2016, will also serve two months of house arrest after pleading guilty to embezzling funds set aside for disaster relief, the local US attorney's office said.
Taylor took more than $18,000 in relief payments claiming that her residence was damaged in flooding in June 2016. Investigators found this was not the case and that she had been staying in the residence despite claiming to be staying in a rental property.
Taylor has been fined $10,000 as well as paying back $18,149.04 in restitution.
“There’s no such thing as a little bit of FEMA fraud," said United States Attorney Mike Stuart, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "Taylor’s fraudulent scheme took FEMA dollars away from those who needed it the most... Federal disaster benefits are critical to rebuilding infrastructure, homes and lives – not for lining the pockets of individuals who suffered no loss
US district court judge Irene Berger, an Obama administration appointee, presided over the sentencing hearing. Prosecutors said that Taylor had also paid back the restitution money.
“Defrauding federal programmes is always an egregious act," said Special Agent in Charge Mark Tasky who worked on the case. "Disaster relief fraud is even more serious because of the limited nature of the funds intended to assist Americans in their time of greatest need”.
Taylor, who had been director of the Clay County Development Corp. (CCDC), was sacked in December 2016 over the Facebook post about Ms Obama. Taylor had been reinstated to her post earlier that month after initially being forced out in November.
In the social media post, posted just after the presidential election Taylor said: "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."
Pamela Ramsey Taylor (Facebook)
The former mayor of Clay, Beverly Whaling also resigned from her post after commenting "just made my day Pam" in response to Taylor's post.
Taylor and Ms Whaling had said they did not intend to be racist. “I am truly sorry for any hard feeling this may have caused! Those who know me know that I'm not of any way racist! Again, I would like to apologise for this getting out of hand!” Ms Whaling said in a statement.