The former senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church, Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, has been sentenced to 72 months in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, with no home confinement as an option.
In a statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice, Caldwell, 67, was approached by co-defendant Gregory Alan Smith, of Shreveport, Louisiana about an investment opportunity with historic Chinese bonds. Smith’s investors were told that they would get a large return on their investment in a short period of time. Caldwell and Smith neglected to tell the investors that the bonds were considered to be collectibles, with no value.
In total, in 2013 and 2014, approximately $3.5 million was “invested” in these bond deals. Caldwell received $900,000. The investors turned victims never received any money from either Caldwell or Smith.
Windsor Village United Methodist Church responded to the sentencing on their Facebook page that read,
” Dear Windsor Village Kingdom Builders, the attached statement is being sent to the world. We want to share with the world what you already know. Over almost 38 years as our senior pastor, Kirbyjon Caldwell has performed hundreds of baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Through his preaching and teaching, he has given thousands of messages of help and hope that have positioned members of our congregation and the broader community to live more productive, healthy lives. He is unable to address the Church Family directly now, but he surely will when he can. Meanwhile, your prayers and patience are greatly appreciated. The Lord will see our Church Family through this season. Let’s continue to have faith and pray together. Be encouraged by Psalm 30:5, which promises that joy will follow sorrow.”
United States District Judge S. Maurice Hicks, Jr. has also ordered Caldwell to serve one additional year of supervised release and to pay restitution in the amount of $3,588,500, as well as a fine of $125,000.
“The defendants, in this case, abused the trust that the victims had placed in them,” Acting United States Attorney Van Hook said. “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. This office will continue to investigate and prosecute those who scheme and prey upon the elderly and others.”
Caldwell will report to the Bureau of Prisons to start his sentence on June 22, 2021.