February 16, 2019
Michelle Obama remark defrauded $18,000 from FEMA: report
A former West Virginia official who lost her job in 2016 after she referred to then-first lady Michelle Obama as an “ape” has captured headlines again after she pleaded guilty to defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of thousands of dollars intended for flood victims, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.
According to the local paper, Pamela Taylor, the former director of the Clay County Development Corp., pleaded guilty earlier this week to taking more than $18,000 in relief benefits from the agency intended to help those whose homes were damaged in the 2016 floods that ravaged regions of the state.
Taylor, 57, wrongfully registered for the benefits and falsely claimed that her home had been damaged by the floods and that she was forced to stay in a rental property, according to the newspaper.
But it was later reportedly discovered that Taylor’s primary residence was undamaged by the floods and she was still residing there.
Taylor has since reportedly agreed to pay $18,149.04 in restitution in her plea agreement. The former government employee also reportedly faces up to 30 years in prison, in addition to a maximum fine of $500,000.
Taylor will reportedly be sentenced in May.
The West Virginia woman first captured national attention after she was removed from her position in November 2016 when she said in a Facebook post that “It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”
The post instantly became a source of outrage among the public, with many demanding public apologies and her termination. Source
January 28, 2019
No one was expected to show up for Texas veteran’s burial — now cemetery is planning for big turnout
Initially, a Texas cemetery didn’t expect anyone to attend Air Force veteran Joseph Walker’s burial on Monday.
But administrators put a call out on social media last week asking for the public to attend, and now the cemetery is expecting a big turnout.
Walker, who served in the Air Force from September 1964 to September 1968, died in November, according to an online obituary. He will be buried at 10 a.m. Monday at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen — and he won’t be alone.
It’s very safe to say that the response has been absolutely overwhelming for us,” said Texas General Land Office communications director Karina Erickson.
Erickson said that because there is no RSVP system in place, officials don’t have a firm head count of how many people are expected Monday.
But the cemetery’s call for people to come pay their respects has been shared repeatedly online, she said, and the staff is planning for a large turnout.
“It’s been a mission of ours to get these to go viral so we can get these veterans the respect they truly deserve,” she said.
Erickson noted that CNN anchor and Washington correspondent Jake Tapper shared information about Walker’s funeral Saturday night, racking up thousands of retweets.
A Central Texas motorcycle club is organizing a ride from Round Rock to Killeen to attend Walker’s burial.
Luis Rodriguez, president of the Wind Therapy Freedom Riders, told the San Antonio Express-News his heart sank when he saw the cemetery’s post saying no one was expected at Walker’s burial.
Rodriguez told the paper he’s counting on anywhere between 20 and 200 people to join the ride Monday morning.
Erickson said once veterans’ groups started sharing the information about Walker’s burial, “people really just banded together” to show their support.
She said cemetery staff does their due diligence in trying to find next-of-kin for the veteran.
But when family can’t be found, the Texas Veterans Land Board, which operates the cemetery in Killeen and others around the state, accepts the flag used in burial services for the veteran and holds it for 90 days in case a relative is found or comes forward. After the 90 days has passed, the flag is flown on the cemetery’s main flag pole.
Before the Unaccompanied Veterans Program was established in 2015, it was up to county judges to make decisions on how to honor veterans’ remains if their families couldn’t be found, Erickson said. Since then, eligible veterans have been interred with appropriate military honors through the program.
Texas State Veterans Cemetery deputy director Eric Brown said he has been asked before why a community would attend the burial of someone they never knew.
“My response was swift and simple,” Brown said in a written statement. “The veteran likely didn’t know the community members in attendance either, but they were willing to put their lives on the line for the attendees, in defense of our nation, and our nation’s interests.”
Anyone wishing to attend the burial service is welcome. The service will begin at 10 a.m. at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, 11463 State Highway 195, Killeen, TX 76542. Source
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