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A former pastor has been sentenced to 17 months in prison for stealing his church's hurricane relief funds. Noah Thomas pleaded guilty to a federal charge in April.

Thomas was pastor of Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, which saw its building in New Orleans flooded following Hurricane Katrina. The church did not have flood insurance and received a $252,000 federal disaster loan and a $35,000 grant from the Bush-Clinton Katrina fund.

Prosecutors said Thomas deposited the $35,000 into a bank account he controlled, along with the initial $10,000 loan payment. Authorities said Thomas spent at least $10,000 of the relief money on a personal vehicle.

Court records show Thomas also obligated his small congregation for a $39,000 loan for church furniture and accessories.


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