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 indictment.
Federal authorities allege Smith and Caldwell used investors' money to pay personal loans, credit card balances, mortgages, vehicle purchases and other personal expenses.
The defendants each face 20 years in prison for the conspiracy to commit wire fraud count and for the wire fraud counts. They also face 10 years in prison for the conspiracy to commit money laundering count and the money laundering counts. They also face a $1 million fine, restitution, forfeiture and five years of supervised release.