Audit finds N.O. East ministry should pay back FEMA money - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Audit finds N.O. East ministry should pay back FEMA money

One of Victory Gospel Chapel Ministries' buildings in New Orleans East One of Victory Gospel Chapel Ministries' buildings in New Orleans East

A state legislative audit finds the local church Victory Gospel Chapel Ministries was not eligible to receive FEMA money after Hurricane Katrina, and now the state wants the money back.

Victory Gospel was given over $200,000 for building repairs after Katrina hit. The audit says the money was not spent on repairs, and now the bank account belonging to the ministry only has about $1,100 in it.

The ministry had been operating out of a building on Chef Menteur Highway and provided rehabilitation services to people recovering from substance abuse. 

Pastor Gary Harry, who ran the ministry, told the state the money he received was used on replacing equipment and things inside the building.  He said he also used it to replace a fence and to repair the outside of the structure.

However, when employees of the Legislative Auditor's office visited the property, they discovered some of the buildings were gutted, and the work Pastor Harry said was going to be done was incomplete.

The office has been trying to track down Harry, even going to his New Orleans East home, which is now for sale and is empty inside.

The auditor's report has been passed on to the Office of Homeland Security, the Orleans District Attorney and the U.S. Attorney to see if they want to proceed with any criminal charges against Harry.

FOX 8 spoke to Pastor Harry by phone Monday night. He says the report is wrong, but beyond that he had no comment.

Click here to view the audit report.

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