New Orleans police ex-lieutenant charged with embezzling almost $330,000 from Catholic church | Crime/Police

Federal prosecutors have charged a former New Orleans police lieutenant with bilking a Roman Catholic church where he worked of almost $330,000, nine years after a peripheral role in the Henry Glover civil rights case cost him his job on the force.

Joseph Meisch, business manager of St. Patrick’s Church in the Central Business District, used credit cards belonging to the church to buy himself sporting goods and other personal items and transferred church money into his personal account for about three years beginning in July 2015, the U.S. attorney’s office alleged. He also wrote unauthorized checks from the bank to himself and his security company and transferred money from St. Patrick’s PayPal account to himself, ultimately taking $329,856, prosecutors said in court documents.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas fired a veteran lieutenant Tuesday for misconduct related to his peripheral role in the Henry G…

The U.S. attorney’s office singled out one alleged purchase, using a church credit card to buy a gun and other sporting goods in August 2017.

Prosecutors charged Meisch with one count of wire fraud in a bill of information on Wednesday. Bills of information are generally a sign that a defendant intends to plead guilty rather than stand trial.

Meisch, 45, could face as long as 20 years in prison if convicted, although maximum sentences in federal court are rare for first-time offenders. His arraignment is tentatively scheduled Oct. 13.

Attempts to contact Meisch, who lives in Destrehan, were unsuccessful Friday.

Archdiocese of New Orleans spokeswoman Sarah McDonald said church officials have “worked with and cooperated with law enforcement” in its investigation of Meisch. “And we pledge our ongoing cooperation as we move forward,” McDonald said.

The case against Meisch comes as the archdiocese moves through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in federal court. In seeking protection from creditors, the archdiocese cites a financial downturn from litigation associated with the church’s clergy abuse scandal as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

This is the second time Meisch is known to have drawn the attention of federal authorities.

In 2010, Meisch testified against fellow officers charged in the death of Glover, whom police had shot to death in Algiers in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Meisch said he saw a plume of smoke wafting over a levee after an officer set fire to a car containing Glover’s body. Meisch also said he spotted what looked like a person’s ribcage inside the charred vehicle.

Yet Meisch, once commander of the Police Department’s homicide investigations squad, failed to do anything, simply taking the word of a fellow supervisor who promised to handle it.

The officer who ignited Glover’s body was convicted. The government granted Meisch immunity in exchange for his testimony.  

But Meisch’s testimony cost him his 14-year job at the Police Deparment, which fired him in May 2011 for neglect of duty.

The convictions of two other officers charged with major roles in the Glover case were ultimately overturned on appeal. That included David Warren, the officer accused of fatally shooting Glover. At a retrial, Warren was acquitted of civil rights and gun charges.

After an unsuccessful appeal of his dismissal, Meisch in 2012 registered as the proprietor of New Orleans Security, Investigations and Consulting LLC. The Louisiana secretary of state’s office revoked the company’s articles of incorporation after it failed to file the required reports.

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