HOUSTON – Kirbyjon Caldwell, the former pastor of a Houston megachurch, was sentenced to prison Thursday after admitting to bilking investors out of millions of dollars alongside a Louisiana investment adviser.
Caldwell was sentenced to six years in prison after he pleaded guilty in March to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to the Department of Justice, Caldwell and Gregory Smith, a Shreveport financial planner, used their clout and influence to persuade people to invest about $3.5 million in historical Chinese bonds. The bonds were reportedly issued by the former Republic of China before they lost power to the communist government in 1949. The bonds aren’t recognized by China’s current government and thus have no investment value.
Smith began approaching victims about the investment in 2013 and promised high returns on the investment. In 2013 and 2014, about $3.5 million was “invested” and divided between Caldwell, Smith and others, prosecutors said.
Caldwell used about $900,000 to maintain his lifestyle, pay down personal loans and mortgages, according to the Justice Department.