Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, Advisor to Obama and Bush, Guilty in Investment Scheme
A Houston megachurch pastor and spiritual adviser to former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush has pleaded guilty to in an investment scheme that defrauded elderly Louisiana residents.
Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in the multimillion-dollar investment scheme.
His codefendant, Gregory A. Smith, a Shreveport investment advisor, pled guilty in July to the same charge.
“These defendants used their positions as religious leaders and investment advisors to defraud Louisiana residents – many of whom are elderly and retired,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Louisiana, in a statement.
“In doing so, the defendants abused the trust and respect of their victims for the sole purpose of stealing their money. This type of deceit can be devastating for victims, especially when life savings are lost,” he said, adding that his office would “continue to vigorously prosecute those who use confidence schemes to prey upon the elderly and people of faith.”
According to information presented in court, Caldwell and Smith convinced multiple victims to invest approximately $3.5 million in historical Chinese bonds, which are bonds issued by the former Republic of China before the communist regime took power in 1949.
The bonds are not recognized by China’s current government and have no investment value, per the Attorney’s office.
The Shreveport Times reported that Caldwell used $900,000 of the funds intended for investment to pay personal loans, mortgages and credit cards and for personal living expenses.
Caldwell faces between five and seven years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The pastor made partial restitution to the victims and has agreed to pay the remaining balance of nearly $2 million before sentencing, which is set for July 22, 2020.