Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 67, who was indicted in 2018 along with Gregory A. Smith in a junk bond scam, was sentenced Wednesday to serve six years in a Louisiana prison
The Texas megachurch pastor who was once spiritual adviser to George W. Bush and Barack Obama is convicted for bilking investors out of millions of dollars
Kirbyjon prosecutors said, used his spiritual pre-eminence to persuade a captive audiethem to invest in useless historical Chinese bonds
Caldwell pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud last March
The pastor was accused of using his influence to persuade people to buy $3.5million in historical Chinese bonds
The bonds were issued before the communist government took power in 1949
China’s current government does not recognize the bonds, which have no investment value
Caldwell has a master´s degree from the Wharton School of Business and previously worked in the financial industry.
His co-defendant, Gregory A. Smith, was already convicted and similarly jailed for six years for the bond scam
The former pastor was also ordered to pay nearly $3.6million in restitution
A Texas megachurch pastor who once served as a spiritual adviser to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama has been sentenced to six years in prison after persuading investors to spend millions on worthlesss historical Chinese bonds.
Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 67, was sentenced Wednesday in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he and his co-defendant, Gregory A. Smith, were indicted in 2018.
Caldwell, who in March pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, was the senior pastor of Houston’s Windsor Village United Methodist Church. Caldwell is credited with growing the Church from roughly 25 members in the 1980s to more than 16,000 today, making it one of the country’s largest protestant congregations.
According to federal prosecutors, Caldwell and Smith, a Shreveport-based investment adviser, used their clout and influence to persuade people to invest about $3.5million in historical Chinese bonds.
These are bonds issued by the former Republic of China that lost power to the communist government in 1949. The bonds aren´t recognized by the current government of China and have zero investment value.
The Securities and Exchange Commission considers the bonds to be ‘mere collectables with no value outside of the memorabilia market,’ according to prosecutors.
The charging documents state that highly respected clergyman ‘used his status as the pastor of a mega-church to help convince the many victim investors that they were making a legitimate investment, but instead he took their hard-earned money from them and used it for his own personal gain,’ Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook said in a statement.
‘This office will continue to investigate and prosecute those who scheme and prey upon the elderly and others.’
Revd. Caldwell personally received about $900,000 from the scheme and used it to maintain his lifestyle and pay down credit cards and mortgages, according to the Justice Department.
Besides his six year sentence, Caldwell was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,588,500, as well as a fine of $125,000.
He is set to report to federal prison on June 22. After his release, he will spend one year on supervised release.
The pastor has a master´s degree from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and had worked in the financial industry.
In November, Smith was also sentenced to six years in prison.
Floyd LeBlanc, chairman of the Windsor Village Church Family Personnel Committee, said in a video posted to Facebook that Caldwell has taken full responsibility and paid full restitution to all the victims.
LeBlanc said Caldwell has remained active within the church during his case, including helping with virtual ministry and weekly food distributions to families during the pandemic.
‘Mr. Caldwell has apologized and asked forgiveness from the people harmed in this matter,’ LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc also described Caldwell as a victim for choosing the wrong business partners.
‘We´re very disappointed that Mr. Caldwell´s contributions to society and his extraordinary efforts to make every victim whole resulted in a sentence that is disappointing,’ LeBlanc said.
It was reported that Caldwell who is 67-year-old and has prostrate cancer, may have wait for a year before he starts serving his prison sentence because of the threats posed to his health by the COVID-19 pandemic.