Illustration for article titled This Aint What Jesus Died For: Megachurch Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell Pleads Guilty to Defrauding His Own Flock in Multi-Million Dollar Investment Scheme
Screenshot: ABC13 Houston (YouTube)

Houston megachurch pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell’s resume is no joke.

He received his Masters in Divinity in 1981, joined the Continental Airlines board of directors in 1999, and served as a spiritual advisor to Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama.

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He also built his 16,000-member megachurch, Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, from the ground up, tending to the needs of his congregation through tutoring programs, building shelters for abused children, and other philanthropic efforts.

But he’s also a criminal—allegedly—and according to KPRC, he’s facing some serious jail time (and eternal damnation) for defrauding his own flock as part of a multimillion-dollar investment scheme:

Caldwell and [co-defendant Gregory A.] Smith used their clout and influence to persuade people to invest about $3.5 million in historical Chinese bonds. The bonds were reportedly issued by the former Republic of China before they lost power to the communist government in 1949. The bonds aren’t recognized by China’s current government and thus have no investment value.

Smith began approaching victims about the investment in 2013 and promised high returns on the investment. In 2013 and 2014, about $3.5 million was “invested” and divided between Caldwell, Smith and others, prosecutors said.

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According to the Department of Justice, Caldwell reportedly spent about $900,000 of that money to maintain his quality of life and pay off personal loans, credit cards, and mortgages.

This ain’t what Jesus died for.

“These defendants used their positions as religious leaders and investment advisors to defraud Louisiana residents—many of whom are elderly and retired,” U.S. Attorney Joseph said in a statement. “In doing so, the defendants abused the trust and respect of their victims for the sole purpose of stealing their money. This type of deceit can be devastating for victims, especially when life savings are lost. My office will continue to vigorously prosecute those who use confidence schemes to prey upon the elderly and people of faith.”

For his role in this predatory scheme, Caldwell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Caldwell faces between five and seven years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.

He’s also going to Hell.

The embattled pastor has already made partial restitution to those he has wronged and has agreed to pay the remaining balance of $1,951,478.00 before he is sentenced.

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Did I mention he’s going to Hell?

Caldwell is scheduled to be sentenced on July 22.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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