Texas Megachurch Pastor Sent to Prison for Fraud Scheme – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
A Texas mega-church pastor and former spiritual advisor to two US presidents was sentenced to six years in prison for challenging millions of dollars in investors.
Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 67, was sentenced on Wednesday in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he and his co-defendant Gregory A. Smith were indicted in 2018.
Caldwell, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy in March, was the senior pastor of the Windsor Methodist United Methodist Church in Houston, which has approximately 14,000 members. He was a spiritual advisor to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
According to federal prosecutors, Caldwell and Smith, a Shreveport-based investment advisor, used their clout and influence to convince people to invest about $ 3.5 million in historic Chinese bonds. The bonds were reportedly issued by the former Republic of China, which lost power to the communist government in 1949. The bonds are not recognized by the current Chinese government and have no investment value.
Caldwell “used his mega-church pastor status to convince the many victim investors that they were making a legitimate investment. Instead, he took their hard-earned money from them and used it for his personal gain.” US attorney Alexander Van Hook said in a statement.
According to the Justice Department, Caldwell used about $ 900,000 he received from the program to keep his lifestyle going and to pay off credit cards and mortgages. Caldwell holds a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and has worked in the financial industry.
In November Smith was also sentenced to six years in prison.
In a video posted on Facebook, Floyd LeBlanc, chairman of the Windsor Village Church Family Staff Committee, said Caldwell had taken full responsibility and paid full compensation to all victims.
LeBlanc said Caldwell remained active in the church during his fall, including assisting with virtual ministry and weekly food distribution to families during the pandemic.
“Mr. Caldwell apologized and asked forgiveness from those injured in this matter,” said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc also described Caldwell as a victim of choosing the wrong business partner.
“We are very disappointed that Mr. Caldwell’s contributions to society and his extraordinary efforts to make every sacrifice a whole have resulted in a disappointing verdict,” said LeBlanc.
Caldwell was due to report to federal prison on June 22nd.