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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Houston Mega Church Pastor Indicted For Wire Fraud & Money Laundering

Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell

Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell

Houston, TX — Kirbyjon Caldwell, senior pastor at Windsor Village United Methodist Church, a Houston-based mega church, is facing charges of wire fraud and money laundering. Federal prosecutors have accused him of scamming millions of dollars from investors in a Chinese bond scheme.

Caldwell, who is 64-years old, and Gregory Smith, his 55-year old business partner, is being charged with 13 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy in committing money laundering after raising about $3.5 million in Historical Chinese bonds from 29 investors from 2003 to 2004.

They allegedly deceived investors into buying bogus stocks through a company called Smith Financial Group LLC.

“These bonds were issued by the former Republic of China prior to losing power to the Communist government in 1949,” the prosecutors said in a statement. “They are not recognized by China’s current government and have no investment value.”

The investors said they entrusted their money even though most of them cannot clearly understand the investment because of their faith in Smith and Caldwell, a high-profile pastor with previous ties with President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

But instead of investing the money, Smith and Caldwell allegedly “used them to pay personal loans, credit card balances, mortgages, vehicle purchases and other personal expenses,” according to the statement.

They are both facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Caldwell, however, is claiming that he is innocent. In front of over 7,000 people on his Easter Sunday sermon, he said, “From my mouth to your ears, I am not guilty.”

“On the road to glory you have painful pit stops and this is a pit stop,” he continued. “The one thing that disturbs me most is [the statement] that I took advantage of people. I’ve spent 38 years helping people.”

In an interview, he also said that he has proof that the accusations are not true. “Everyone who’s asked for their money back to date has received their money back. I’ve got evidence that the bonds are legitimate.”

Moreover, Caldwell is expected to surrender and be arraigned on Monday, according to attorney Dan Cogdell, who represents the pastor.