Kirbyjon Caldwell has used business as an extension of his Houston ministry for decades. Now, a Chinese bonds deal has gotten him in trouble with the SEC.
Thousands of worshipers at a Methodist megachurch in Houston didn’t expect to hear from their pastor’s lawyer on Easter morning.
The special guest dropped in to speak days after Kirbyjon Caldwell—a prominent Texas pastor and former spiritual adviser to presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama—was charged with more than a dozen crimes in an alleged fraud scheme.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleges that Caldwell and his financial planner misled investors out of $3.5 million through the sale of shady Chinese bonds. Caldwell maintains his innocence and plans to fight the charges.
In Holy Week services across Houston, fellow African American pastors and Caldwell’s own 16,000-member congregation, Windsor Village, enthusiastically came to his defense.
About halfway through the almost two-hour Easter service, Dan Cogdell, Caldwell’s legal counsel, paced the stage in front of the white-robed choir and shouted to the cheering congregation, “I know the truth and the truth will set him free!”
Cogdel said the case prompted him to open the Bible and see the parallels between Caldwell’s situation and Christ himself.
“I read last night that Jesus was tried for several offenses, and acquitted of all but one,” he told Windsor Village, an African American megachurch that ranks as one of the biggest in the United Methodist denomination. “The one crime he was found guilty of was claiming falsely to be the Son of God. Think of the irony of that.”
Caldwell and his adviser, Gregory Alan Smith, face 13 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering for allegedly misguiding 29 investors between April 2013 and August 2014. The two were indicted Thursday …
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