On Wednesday, a Texas megachurch pastor was sentenced to six years in prison for his fraud scheme role.
Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 67, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He will report to federal prison on June 22, according to reports.
Caldwell was the leading pastor at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston. He also previously served as a spiritual advisor to President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush.
He and his co-defendant, Gregory A. Smith, a Shreveport-based investment adviser that also received six years, were indicted in 2018. Before their arrest, both men used their prominence to convince people to fund over $3 million in historical Chinese bonds, federal prosecutors state.
According to NBCDFW, the bonds have no “investment value,” nor are they recognized by China’s current government. They were delivered by the former Republic of China, who lost control in 1949 to the “communist government.”
Caldwell “used his status as the pastor of a megachurch to help convince the many victim investors that they were making a legitimate investment, but instead, he took their hard-earned money from them and used it for his own personal gain,” Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook said in a statement.
The Texas pastor used nearly $1 million of the scheme’s funds to continue his way of life and pay off significant bills, the Justice Department mentioned.
Floyd LeBlanc, chairman of the Windsor Village Church Family Personnel Committee, stated in a video uploaded to Facebook that Caldwell has taken complete responsibility for his actions and has given compensation to all victims.
He continued that the pastor is still active within the church amid his court case. He also described him as being a victim falling prey to the wrong business partners.
“Mr. Caldwell has apologized and asked forgiveness from the people harmed in this matter,” LeBlanc said.
“We’re very disappointed that Mr. Caldwell’s contributions to society and his extraordinary efforts to make every victim whole resulted in a sentence that is disappointing,” LeBlanc continued.