Kirbyjon Caldwell, the former pastor of Windsor Village UMC was sentenced to six years in federal prison on Thursday. Caldwell had previously pled guilty in March of 2020 to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charges were based on his participation in a scheme that roped people into investing about $3.5 million in historical former Republic of China bonds. The bonds were issued before the People’s Revolution that installed the People’s Republic of China as the governing power over mainland China in 1949. The PRC does not recognize the validity of such bonds and they have no value other than as possible collector’s items.
The scheme dating back to 2013-14 time frame was hatched by Caldwell and Gregory Smith, a Shreveport financial planner previously sentence to prison, who duped investors into buying the worthless bonds based on Caldwell’s influence as a pastor, community leader and author of several books in the “prosperity gospel” vein. Smith promised high returns on the investment, but the approximately $3.5 million stolen from victims was simply divided between Smith, Caldwell and others. Prosecutors alleged that Caldwell used over $900,000 of the money to maintain his wealthy preacher lifestyle.
Caldwell did not engage in a classic Ponzi Scheme where new investors funds are used to pay off previous investors to attract more dupes. This appears to be a more straightforward lie about the investment and just take the money and run. The only place Caldwell will be running for the next six years will be in the prison yard. Hopefully, he will attempt to make amends during his time in prison. He should have plenty of time to contemplate his sins and pray for forgiveness.