Houston megachurch pastor sentenced to 6 years in prison for bilking investors

Kirbyjon Caldwell walks out of federal court in Louisiana. (File)

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.

Smith pleaded guilty to the same charge in July 2019. He was also sentenced to six years in prison.

About the Authors:

Aaron Barker has been a senior digital editor at KPRC 2 since 2016. As a meteorologist, he specializes in stories about the weather. He has covered Hurricane Harvey, the Astros first World Series win, the Santa Fe High School shooting, the ITC fire and Tropical Storm Imelda.