HOUSTON – A prominent Houston pastor and a Louisiana financial planner are accused of defrauding investors of more than $1 million.
A federal grand jury indicted Gregory Alan Smith, 55, of Shreveport, La., and Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 64, of Houston, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana announced Thursday.
Smith and Caldwell are charged with six counts of wire fraud, four counts of money laundering and one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The 13-count indictment alleges that Smith and Caldwell convinced investors to pay the $1 million to invest in Historical Chinese bonds.
According to the U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook’s office, the bonds, issued by the former Republic of China prior to losing power to the Communist government in 1949, are not recognized by China’s current government and have no investment value.
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Smith and Caldwell allegedly promised high rates of return, sometimes three to 15 times the value of the investments.
“instead of investing the funds, the defendants used them to pay personal loans, credit card balances, mortgages, vehicle purchases and other personal expenses,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Caldwell is the pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church, a 14,000-member megachurch in Windsor Village in Houston.
According to TheWashington Post, Caldwell led the benediction at both inaugurations for former president George W. Bush. Caldwell also officiated at Jenna Bush’s wedding in 2008.
Smith and Caldwell could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million if convicted.
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