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NOPD Lt. fired after post-Katrina civil rights case charged with stealing $329,000 from church

Federal prosecutors say he stole more than $329,000 over a three-year period by using the church's credit cards for personal purchases.
Credit: Nola.com

NEW ORLEANS — Joseph Meisch, a former NOPD Lieutenant fired in 2011 for his role in the events leading to the post-Katrina Henry Glover civil rights case, was charged this week with wire fraud by federal prosecutors. 

Meisch, 45, is accused of defrauding a New Orleans church out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

After being fired from the New Orleans Police Department, Meisch was hired as the business manager for Saint Patrick's Church in New Orleans.

Federal prosecutors, in a charging document dated Sept. 23, say he stole more than $329,000 over a three-year period by using the church's credit cards for personal purchases and moving church funds to his personal bank account.  

It is unclear when that case will move forward to a possible trial. If convicted, Meisch faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. 

The Glover case refers to a civil rights trial against several NOPD officers for alleged misconduct in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Glover, a black man, was shot to death by Officer David Warren days after the storm struck. Another officer, Greg McRae set fire to the car containing Glover's body hours later, incinerating the remains on top of a levee in Algiers. 

Meisch, a 14-year veteran at the time of his firing, was not one of the four officers charged with crimes related to Glover's death, but testified during it -- under a grant of immunity from prosecutors -- about what he saw and failed to do. 

According to an article by The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate, Meisch testified that McRae laughed as he ran down the levee. He also said under oath that he found a charred human rib cage in the car, but didn't report the incident because he expected another, more experienced lieutenant, to take care of it. 

When he was fired, Meisch sued the city of New Orleans over his termination. 

According to his lawyer, the newspaper reported, other officers viewed him as a "rat" for his testimony. 

"Now, they view him as a rat," Bob Pastor said of his client's police colleagues. "The old guys call him a rat openly. The young guys all send him private e-mails saying, 'Congratulations, thanks for having (the guts) to stand up and speak out.'"

The case was nationally highlighted as an example of police misconduct in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. 

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