HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) –Houston megachurch pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell insists bonds he sold are legitimate, and his attorney says he absolutely believed the bonds were worth more than he sold them for.
Caldwell is accused of defrauding people of millions using phony Chinese bonds.
In an exclusive interview with ABC13 Friday morning, Caldwell and his attorney insisted that the pastor invested a significant amount of his own money, and even personally refunded nearly $1 million to anyone who was unhappy with the investment.
“Every single person who has asked for their money back has gotten their money back,” Caldwell’s attorney Dan Cogdell said at a press conference.
Cogdell said they wouldn’t answer detailed questions, but promised they will ‘beat this case like a rented mule.’
Caldwell added that he plans to preach on Sunday.
On Thursday, Cogdell had released a statement saying:
“Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell is a religious leader who has been falsely accused. He trusts the legal process completely but most importantly his faith. He will be absolved. We look forward to trying this case in the court of law.”
Caldwell has been indicted on fraud charges.
Court papers state that the 64-year-old pastor and investment advisor Gregory Smith sold nearly $3.5 million in worthless pre-revolutionary Chinese bonds to the elderly and vulnerable investors.
The indictment alleges Caldwell and Smith never paid investors back but instead kept them on the hook with frequent investor calls and promises of payback.
Both men face years in federal prison, if convicted, and could be made to pay back millions and forfeit a home the pastor owns in Houston.
Court filings suggest he used money from the alleged investment scheme to pay the mortgage on it.
Caldwell is the senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church. He has a congregation of more than 16,000 people.
Caldwell once served as one of President George W. Bush’s spiritual advisors. He even presided over Jenna Bush’s wedding.
Caldwell is also a limited partner with the Houston Texans.
The Texans organization is still investigating these allegations.