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Con-man Claiming to be a Pastor had 10 Wives Over 20-year Period

Orlando Coleman sentenced to 3 years in prison for bigamy

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Last week, a Houston man claiming to be a bishop was sentenced to three years in prison on bigamy charges.

Orlando Coleman / Photo via Facebook @Bishop Orlando Coleman Ministries Inc.

These new charges come just two months after Orlando Coleman, 51, received probation for the same offense.

In the state of Texas, bigamy, or being married to more than one person at a time, is a third-degree felony. Prosecutors believe Coleman has been married to at least 10 different women over the past 20 years. They also found no evidence he was ever a member of the clergy.

So, how did he do it?

Coleman would travel to small Black churches around the country and claim to be a pastor or a bishop. On Facebook he described himself as “a Pentecostal Preacher known for his vast wisdom in matters of church protocol.”

He would then meet women at these different churches and propose to them. According to The New York Times, once a woman accepted his proposal, “he would move in with her and she would pay for his housing, food and bills.”

“At the heart of this repeat offender’s schemes was a plan to defraud women and take advantage of them for financial gain,” said Kim Ogg, the district attorney for Harris County where Coleman was sentenced. “This man used the church to camouflage his scams and hide from any accountability or responsibility.”

While prosecutors believe Coleman has been running his marriage con for over 20 years, he only recently got caught.

In 2021, he married a woman from Houston. Just five months into their marriage, his new wife discovered he was receiving money from a woman in Virginia. The Houston wife contacted the Virginia woman on Facebook and started connecting the dots.

The New York Times reports, “The woman in Virginia told Mr. Coleman’s wife in Houston that she had been married to Mr. Coleman since 2019 and provided her with a copy of their marriage certificate, court documents say. The wife in Virginia told Mr. Coleman’s new wife that she and Mr. Coleman had never divorced, but had separated in 2021, when he moved to Texas, court documents say.”

Two-weeks after the move to Texas, Coleman married the Houston woman.

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After communicating with the woman in Virginia, the Houston woman contacted authorities, which led to an investigation into Coleman by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Coleman was charged with bigamy and pled guilty in July of 2023 in exchange for a three-year probation.

But just two months into his probation sentence, while still legally married to the Virginia woman, Coleman married a woman from Kentucky.

Because of the new marriage, prosecutors filed a motion to revoke his probation and on March 11, a judge sentenced him to three years in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Vanessa Goussen, who prosecuted Coleman, said his victims supported the move to revoke his probation.

Goussen said, “They wanted him to go [to] prison because they felt this person abused their trust based on a title, and they believed he would do it again,” according to The New York Times.

In a statement from the DA’s office, Goussen encouraged people to always “run a background check, if possible, or try searching their name on the internet, look at their social media, and ask a lot of questions. Unfortunately, many con artists hide behind important sounding titles, and it is easier than you think to get swept off your feet.”

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Brittany Smith

Brittany Smith is a freelance writer living in Colorado Springs. She is the co-author of Unplanned Grace: A Compassionate Conversation on Life and Choice.