A Clay County woman was sentenced for embezzling federal FEMA disaster benefits, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart.
Pamela Taylor, 57, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, two months of home confinement, and a $10,000 fine for making multiple false statements to FEMA and causing the agency to provide her with over $18,000 in fraudulent, undeserved benefits. Taylor has already paid $18,149.04 in restitution. Stuart commended the investigative efforts of the United States Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) and the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations.
“There’s no such thing as a little bit of FEMA fraud. Taylor’s fraudulent scheme took FEMA dollars away from those who needed it the most,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Federal disaster benefits are critical to rebuilding infrastructure, homes and lives – not for lining the pockets of individuals who suffered no loss. As I stated earlier this month, you can rest assured that my office is working with appropriate federal agencies to investigate the issues of disaster relief, and the use of federal funds related to the historic 2016 floods. Any party that abused their position of authority, violated the public trust, or misused taxpayer dollars will be held accountable.”
“Defrauding federal programs is always an egregious act. 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,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Tasky of DHS-OIG. “DHS-OIG is pleased to have worked this investigation jointly with the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to show the good people of West Virginia that justice has been served upon Taylor, who knowingly and willfully disregarded federal laws to personally enrich herself at a time when many people affected by this disaster were just trying to survive.”
Taylor admitted that she falsely registered for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster benefits after the June 2016 flood in Clay County. Taylor claimed that her primary residence was damaged by the flood and that she was staying in a rental unit after the flood. In fact, 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.
United States District Court Judge the Honorable Irene C. Berger presided over the sentencing hearing. Former Assistant United States Attorney Meredith George Thomas and Assistant United States Attorneys Philip Wright and Stefan Hasselblad handled the prosecution.