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Wednesday, March 29, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Teacher/Pastor arrested in faked deployment

NEW YORK — A Bronx special education teacher was arrested Tuesday for telling school officials he was being deployed to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts when he actually traveled to Brazil for personal reasons, investigators said.

James Thomas, who is also the pastor of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Bronx, was charged with forgery, false records and larceny.

Thomas, a teacher at the Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology, received $828 in salary for four days in October during which he claimed that he had been on active military duty in New Orleans, according Richard Condon, the special commissioner of investigation for the city schools.

Thomas allegedly faked deployment documents from the Air National Guard, where he was a lieutenant colonel, so that he could attend a religious conference in Brazil.

He was reassigned to administrative duty following the Dec. 12 release of the report by Condon's office.

Thomas retired from the Air National Guard following the incident, said Maj. Emily Desrosier, a spokeswoman for the 106th Rescue Wing. The teacher served with the Westhampton Beach-based unit for 28 years as chaplain.