Tag Archive: Securities Fraud

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell’s Co-Defendant Pleads Guilty to Fraud

kirbyjon caldwell

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

In March 2018, Kirbyjon Caldwell, pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, was indicted and charged with “conspiracy to commit wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiring to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering.”

KTBS-3 reports:

A Shreveport financial planner and the pastor of a Houston, Texas, megachurch are accused of bilking investors of more than $1 million.

Thursday, a federal grand jury returned a 13-count indictment against Gregory Alan Smith, 55, of Shreveport and Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 64, of Houston.

Smith is the owner of Greg Smith Financial Group. Caldwell is pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church, a 16,000-member megachurch in Houston. He was an unofficial advisor to former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Smith and Caldwell are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiring to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering.

According to the indictment, Smith used his influence and status as the operator and manager of Smith Financial Group in Shreveport, and Caldwell used his influence and status as pastor at his church to lure investors to pay more than $1 million to invest in Historical Chinese bonds.

These bonds were issued by the former Republic of China prior to losing power to the communist government in 1949. They are not recognized by China’s current government and have no investment value.

Smith and Caldwell promised high rates of return, sometimes three to 15 times the value of the investments, according to the indictme.

Federal authorities allege Smith and Caldwell used investors’ money to pay personal loans, credit card balances, mortgages, vehicle purchases and other personal expenses.

….

The Houston Chronicle adds:

A prominent Houston pastor and spiritual adviser to President George W. Bush has been indicted on federal charges he sold more than more than $1 million in worthless Chinese bonds to elderly and vulnerable investors, according to federal authorities.

Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 64, and Shreveport financial planner Gregory Alan Smith, 55, were indicted Thursday on 13 charges accusing them of wire fraud and money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana said in a Thursday statement.

Caldwell is accused of using his position as the senior pastor of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church to lure more than $1 million in investments into historic Chinese bonds that are not recognized by the Chinese government. He and Smith told investors they could see returns as high as 15 times their initial investment, prosecutors said.

The indictment accuses the men of cheating 29 investors between April 2013 and August 2014 of nearly $3.5 million for what were described as “mere collectible memoribilia.”

….

Caldwell, a Houston native, developed a friendship with George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas, and he offered the benediction to Bush’s 2001 inauguration as president. He also performed the wedding for Bush’s daughter, Jenna, in Crawford in Central Texas.

Caldwell co-authored a 1999 book, The Gospel of Good Success. His work is credited with helping create the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives under Bush.

….

Yesterday, Caldwell’s co-conspirator, Gregory Alan Smith, pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

Click 2 Houston reports:

The man who is a co-defendant with Houston Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell in a case accusing them of defrauding investors of millions of dollars pleaded guilty Tuesday to wire fraud.

Gregory Alan Smith is a Shreveport, Louisiana, investment advisor. Caldwell is senior pastor at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston.

The pair told investors that the historical Chinese bonds, which reportedly have been in default since 1939 and aren’t recognized by the current Chinese government, could provide exorbitant, risk-free returns on their investments and that the bonds would be sold by Caldwell to a third party or redeemed by the Chinese government, court documents state.

The indictment states Smith recruited the victims through his connections to prospective investors, telling them he was an investment advisor and had personally invested hundreds of thousands in the deal.

Caldwell then told investors to wire the money to a bank account controlled by his attorney or an account of a limited liability company of which he is a member, the indictment reads. Caldwell is accused of then transferring the money to his personal account, the personal account of Smith or a Mexican business associate.

Caldwell and Smith promised investors they would be paid and offered a wide range of excuses for why they were not seeing returns, according to court documents.

Caldwell, 64, received $760,000, which he used for personal expenses, including mortgage payments, the indictment claims.

Caldwell’s limited liability company also received $1 million, of which $175,000 was transferred to Caldwell, according to the indictment.

Smith received $1 million of investor funds, which he used for luxury vehicles, the indictment claimed.

None of the investors received any money back, according to the court documents.

Smith faces five to seven years in prison, a $1 million fine, restitution, forfeiture and five years of supervised release.

Caldwell continues to insist that he is innocent. His trial is scheduled to begin on December 2, 2019.

 

Black Collar Crime: Pastor Sean Riley Charged with Money Laundering and Securities Fraud

sean riley

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Thirteen years ago, Sean Riley, the Evangelical ex-pastor of Secret Place International Church in Humble, Texas, pleaded guilty to operating a pyramid scheme.  The San Antonio Express-News reports Riley “was given two years’ deferred adjudication and was ordered to pay a $500 fine.”  Today, Riley finds himself under indictment for money laundering and securities fraud.

KSLA-12 reports:

A former pastor who in 2015 was cited by a state board has now found himself in hot water following a grand jury indictment.

Sean Patrick Riley, 50, of San Antonio, is charged with money laundering, theft and fraud sell securities. He was arrested on the charge March 22 and is being held on a collective bond of $75,000.

According to the indictment, Riley committed the crimes between Dec. 30, 2014, and Jan. 27, 2015.

The Texas State Securities Board issued a cease and desist order against Riley and his company, Petro-San Resources LLC on June 22, 2015. The order states Riley offered oil and gas investments in Texas at a single well for $7,500 and a $30,000 investment would entitle investors to a four-percent working interest and may lead to a monthly revenue of $2,112.

According to the order, the investment was not registered for sale in Texas and Riley failed to disclose that he had pleaded guilty to promoting a pyramid scheme, charged with DWI and charged with assault. The order also says Riley had been issued cease and desist orders in Pennsylvania and Georgia.

According to an article in the San Antonio Express-News, Riley was the pastor of Secret Place International Church, a Humble “storefront church and TV ministry” in 2005 and was convicted then in the pyramid scheme.