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Park 51 Imam Faces Donor Lawsuit

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (Arun Venugopal)

A donor says an imam who became a lightning rod for heated debate over a planned mosque and Islamic Center near ground zero, known as Park 51, used millions of dollars in contributions to his separate charity for pricey trips, a sports car and other personal expenses.

Robert Deak filed a fraud suit Monday in Manhattan against Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and the Cordoba Initiative.

Rauf's lawyer, Paul Knight, says the imam and his groups "emphatically deny the allegations." They have pursued their own fraud claims against Deak in a federal court since 2011.

Rauf co-led efforts to build the lower Manhattan Islamic center for a time in 2010. The proposal became a flashpoint for protests in the lead-up to the Sept. 11 anniversary that year.

Rauf's role in the project was reduced in January 2011.

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