US archdiocese to pay $1 million for ‘fraudulent’ Hurricane Katrina claims

US archdiocese to pay $1 million for ‘fraudulent’ Hurricane Katrina claims

The Archdiocese of New Orleans will pay more than $1 million in a settlement related to allegations of fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the US Department of Justice announced.

According to the US Department of Justice, the settlement “resolves allegations” that the Archdiocese of New Orleans “knowingly signed certifications for funding that contained false or fraudulent damage descriptions and repair estimates that were prepared by AECOM, an architecture and engineering firm based in Los Angeles”, from a period lasting from 2007 through 2013.

A former project specialist for AECOM first brought the allegations in a 2016 federal lawsuit, which alleged that the Archdiocese of New Orleans, as well as two historically black New Orleans universities, improperly applied for and received millions of dollars in federal funds in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The archdiocese claimed in June 2020 that they were surprised by the questioning, and that “every dollar of funds received has gone back into the restoration of parish, school and other properties to serve the people of the Greater New Orleans community.

“We deny the allegation that the Archdiocese of New Orleans knowingly conspired to submit false information. We have cooperated with the federal government’s investigation and will continue to work with them as we resolve this claim,” they said.