(ThePatriotSource)- Former President Barack Obama’s spiritual advisor was sentenced to six years in prison for a fraud scheme that totaled millions of dollars in China bonds.
Kirbyjon H. Caldwell was sentenced on Wednesday in Shreveport, Louisiana, by US District Judge S. Maurice Hicks. Caldwell was originally indicted back in 2018 with Gregory Allen Smith, his co-defendant.
Caldwell formerly served as the senior pastor at Windsor Village United Methodist Church. The “mega-church” had around 14,000 members in his native city of Houston, Texas.
Caldwell served as a spiritual advisor for Obama and George W. Bush. The New York Times reported he spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2000, delivered the benediction during the 2005 inauguration for Bush, and even officiated Bush’s daughter Jenna’s 2008 wedding.
In 2008, Caldwell supported Obama’s presidential campaign. He was part of a Christian pastor group that would pray with Obama. He also served on the former president’s healthy fatherhood and family task force, according to the Times.
The Associated Press reported that, in early 2013, Caldwell began using his power to influence people to invest in historical Chinese bonds. He did this through Smith, who was an investment advisor in Shreveport.
The pair advised clients that they would gain partial bond ownership and also receive “large returns” very quickly on the investments they made. In addition, they were given “participation agreements,” which included instructions that their investments would be returned in a certain period if the sale failed.
The clients were instructed to wire funds into one of many bank accounts that Caldwell controlled or owned.
The problem, though, is that the bonds were historical Chinese ones. They were issued before the Republic of China, which is no longer in existence, gave way to the Communist party in the country in 1949.
The current government in China no longer recognizes these bonds, meaning they hold no investment value whatsoever. The Securities and Exchange Commission even recognizes them only as collectibles.
In just two years, the scheme netted $3.5 million. Those profits were split between Smith, Caldwell and other people. Caldwell himself received $900,000 from the scheme. He used that money to pay mortgages, credit cards and maintain a lavish lifestyle, officials say.
Alexander C. Van Hook, the Acting US Attorney, said in a statement released by the Department of Justice:
“The defendants in this case abused the trust that the victims had placed in them. This defendant used his status as the pastor of a mega-church to help convince the many victim investors that they were making a legitimate investment, but instead, he took their hard-earned money from them and used it for his own personal gain.”
Caldwell was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. His six-year sentence is set to begin as late as June 22, when he has been ordered to report to the Bureau of Prisons.
In addition to the prison term, he was also ordered to pay restitution of almost $3.6 million, as well as a $125,000 fine. Smith also received a six-year prison term.