Church Nears Settlement with US Over Katrina Aid

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Photo courtesy of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans (Facebook)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans is nearing a settlement with federal authorities in a lawsuit alleging fraud involving Hurricane Katrina aid, according to court records filed Monday.

The federal court filing in New Orleans says federal government lawyers and the archdiocese are working on the completion of the settlement, the terms of which were not revealed. Approval will be needed by officials on both sides and by the federal bankruptcy court in New Orleans. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy reorganization this year amid numerous lawsuits involving sexual abuse by priests,

The lawsuit was filed in 2016, more than a decade after the 2005 storm. It was unsealed in June. It involves a whistleblower’s allegations that false claims made by a contractor resulted in millions of dollars for projects at two local private universities, and for an archdiocese school. The contractor, AECOM, and the archdiocese have denied making false claims.

Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005. The storm has been blamed for as many as 1,800 deaths. Levee breaches in New Orleans led to catastrophic flooding. There have been numerous disputes over government payouts for damages over the years.

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