Apparently, the current administration is not the only one with ties to questionable religious leaders. Federal prosecutors have accused pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, former religious advisor to President George W. Bush, and a business partner by the name of Gregory Smith of defrauding investors of a whopping $3.5 million.
WORTHLESS CHINESE BONDS
According to ABC News, the two men sold millions of dollars of “worthless Chinese bonds” to elderly and vulnerable investors and told them to “remain faithful” in order to see a return on their investment.
According to prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in a Western District of Lousiana, the two men could face significant jail time. For the conspiracy to commit wire fraud and the wire fraud counts, they face 20 years. Additionally, they face another ten years in prison for the money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering counts.
If convicted, the men could also be forced to forfeit their assets.
Caldwell’s lawyer said that his client was “falsely accused” and that he would “be absolved” of his crimes in a tweet.
— Miya Shay (@ABC13Miya) March 30, 2018
Court documents show that between April 2013 and August 2014 Caldwell and Smith raised at least $3,488,500 from 29 investors. They allegedly told the investors that those Chinese bonds were:
“Safe, risk-free, worth tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars.”
In reality, those bonds were nothing more than:
“…Mere collectible memorabilia with no investment value.”
The investors trusted Caldwell because of his position in the church.
“Although many investors did not understand the investment, they ultimately trusted Smith and took comfort in the fact that a high-profile pastor was offering the investment.”
According to prosecutors, the two men used the windfall to purchase vehicles, pay off credit cards and mortgages, as well as other personal expenses.
When investors pressed the two men for a return on their investments, they were continually brushed aside. Caldwell and Smith offered investors a wide range of excuses from delays caused by the International Monetary Fund to issues related to international currency exchange, according to the filing.
Frankly, those two men defrauded the most vulnerable among us and used their ties not only to the church but to a former president to elicit trust from them, and it’s disgusting.
Caldwell’s ties to the Bush family date back to the early 2000s. He offered the benediction at the 2001 inauguration and in 2008, he officiated Jenna Bush Hager’s wedding at the Bush family ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Feature Image via YouTube Video.