NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The subject of a FOX 8 Defenders investigation that dates back years has been found guilty of bilking a Katrina victim out of her Road Home money for renovations he never completed. We’ve also learned the Orleans Parish District Attorney plans to bring three more cases against Pastor Elijah Mealancon.
The DA’s office says the 58-year-old pastor was remanded into custody after he was found guilty of stealing $33,000 in Road Home money from a Katrina victim. In our series of Defenders reports that date back to 2010, when we asked how he was spending Road Home money, Mealancon vowed he didn’t get paid for his work rebuilding homes.
“I don’t even get a salary. I don’t even get a salary. I do this from the kindness of my heart. I don’t even get paid,” Mealancon said in 2011.
However, tax returns for Elijah Christian Ministries or ECM showed the pastor did receive a salary from his ministry.
“He never did finish. He never did finish. The rest I paid for this myself,” homeowner Ike Bennett explained.
Bennett is one of several consumers who told the FOX 8 Defenders he paid Mealancon thousands to renovate his home, but the pastor never finished the job.
“I’ve done did over 100 houses - that I ain’t got a dime,” Mealancon said in 2012 FOX 8 Defenders report. Homeowner Gloria Vincent said to Mealancon, “I trusted you. I put $95,000 in your hands.”
The FOX 8 Defenders found that Mealancon and his ministries weren’t even licensed to do contractor work in Louisiana. He’s alleged to have convinced several victims that their restoration money could go further if pooled under his control to buy supplies, while he organized volunteers to do the actual work.
“This was another despicable example of someone - supposedly a man of God - taking advantage of trusting individuals when they were at their most traumatized and vulnerable,” District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said.
Mealancon will be sentenced Dec. 17 and could face two years in prison and a $5,000 fine in the first case.
There are three more victims with identical charges the D.A.’s office plans to present against Mealancon in the coming months.
The FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women field consumer complaints at 1-877-670-6397 or you can fill out an online complaint form.