Man indicted for stealing church’s hurricane relief funds

Published 12:03 am Friday, March 14, 2008

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Marrero man is accused of stealing hurricane relief funds from a church, U. S. Attorney Jim Letten said on Thursday.

Noah Thomas, 42, the pastor of Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, was charged with mail fraud.

According to court documents, the church building, located in New Orleans, was flooded following Hurricane Katrina. Since the church did not have flood insurance, the congregation applied for and received a $252,000 SBA loan and a $35,000 grant from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.

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Authorities allege that Thomas created a scheme to defraud the church of the grant funds by having the $35,000 check from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund mailed to his house and then deposited into a bank account that he established and controlled. He allegedly did the same thing with the SBA loan money, having a $10,000 disbursement of the disaster loan wired to the same bank account.

If convicted, Thomas faces up to 20 years and a fine of $250,000.