(NEW YORK) — The former imam of a controversial community center and mosque near Ground Zero in New York City has settled a lawsuit that accused him of embezzling millions of dollars in donations to fund a lavish lifestyle.
“We have resolved our dispute,” the imam’s accuser, businessman Robert L. Deak, said. Deak and his wife Moshira Solimon agreed to return a $1.35 million donation to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
“We are now satisfied that neither he [Abdul Rauf] nor his wife were involved in any wrongdoing,” Deak said in a statement provided to ABC News.
In February Deak had alleged funds intended for “the Shariah Index Project” were instead spent by Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan on “a luxury sports car, personal real estate, entertainment, [and] lavish trips,” as well as Abdul Rauf’s “vacations with Evelyn Adorno and support of Evelyn Adorno.”
Deak now says the money was properly spent.
“We are pleased that this unfortunate episode is behind us and we look forward to continuing our important work of creating mutual understanding between people of all faiths,” Abdul Rauf said.
Abdul Rauf was the public face of Park51, the community center and mosque that elicited both intense opposition and support for its proposed location two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed by terrorists on 9/11.
Abdul Rauf fell out with the project’s developer before an interim version of the center opened in September 2011. The proposed Park51 building has not been built.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Heather Long, CNN
Ivana Kottasova, CNN
Jethro Mullen, Ravi Hiranand and Frank Pallotta, CNN