A state audit released today claims the pastor of a Central City church known for its drug addiction programs misspent or wasted at least $160,000 in relief grants after Hurricane Katrina.
In addition, the State Inspector General’s audit also said that Elder John Pierre of Living Witness Church of God in Christ converted to personal use nearly $74,000 in rebuilding grants, without reporting the income to the Internal Revenue Service or state tax officials.
The report recommended that the state begin efforts to recapture the money and consider whether to open a criminal prosecution.
The state’s full report quotes Pierre as acknowledging that some funds were misspent. But in a formal reply attached to the report over the signature of Robert Jenkins, his lawyer, Pierre flatly denies “all wrongdoing and allegations.”
“While I’m anxious to tell my side of the story, I’ve been advised by my counselor not to make any statements,” Pierre said Wednesday.
The inspector general’s report charged that in 2008 the church received $250,000 from the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, a private non-profit established to distribute Katrina relief donations.
The money was intended to convert a Central City building at 1518 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. into low-income housing for recovering addicts.
But the audit found the building still uninhabitable and said $135,000 was diverted to the church’s “daily operating expenses.”
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