HOUSTON – Houston megachurch pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell was sentenced to six years in prison after admitting to wire fraud and defrauding investors alongside an investment adviser.
Caldwell was indicted two years ago and plead guilty last march to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The investment adviser has been identified as Gregory Smith who worked in Louisiana as a financial planner and was barred more than 10 years ago.
The Department of Justice said they both used their popularity and influence to persuade individuals to invest a total of 3 and a half million dollars in outdated and worthless Chinese bonds.
Their primary target was the elder population who are usually more vulnerable.
The worthless bonds were that of the former republic of china prior to becoming a communist nation in 1949 and are no longer recognized by the government.
Most of the money was invested between 2013 and 2014 and was split between Caldwell, Smith, and others.
According to reports, the former senior pastor has a net worth of about 7 million dollars.
Caldwell used around 900 thousand dollars from investors to maintain his lavish lifestyle and to pay off loans, mortgages, and credit cards.
He was the pastor at Windsor Village United Methodist Church for 38 years and also served as a religious adviser to former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
The church put out a statement praising Caldwell for helping create more than 900 jobs and for adding over 150 million dollars in economic value to their community.
Caldwell is said to have paid back almost all of the money to the investors.
(Production: Faisal Quyummi)