A former religious adviser to President George W. Bush was accused by prosecutors of cheating investors of $ 3.5 million.
Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell and a business partner, Gregory Smith, sold millions of dollars of worthless Chinese bonds and told investors to "stay loyal and get their money," notes ABC Houston Station KTRK.
Prosecutors of the US Attorney's Office in the western district of Louisiana announced the thirteen-fold indictment on Thursday.
Both men could face significant prison sentences and be forced to lose assets. According to the prosecution, Caldwell and Smith are in jail for 20 years for conspiracy to count wiretapping and fraud. For the conspiracy to money laundering, they expect 1
Caldwell's attorney tweeted a statement stating that his client was "falsely accused" and "acquitted."
The court records show that between April 2013 and August 2014, Caldwell and Smith collected at least $ 3,488,500 from approximately 29 investors.
According to reports, they told potential investors that the Chinese bonds were "safe, risk-free and worth ten, if not hundreds of millions of dollars," as they were really "mere collectibles of no value" complaint states.
Caldwell, 64, and Smith, 55, did not tell investors that the funds they use would spend their money on personal expenses, according to the court documents.
The prosecution said the defendants used the money they had requested to buy vehicles, pay off credit card and mortgage payments, among other personal expenses.
"Although many investors did not understand the investment, they ultimately trusted Smith and comforted themselves that a high-level pastor offered the investment," the complaint said.
Asked by investors how long it would take to earn returns on their investments, the pair reportedly offered a number of excuses, including delays from the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, as well as issues related to international foreign exchange transactions Conditions.
Caldwell's Presidential Comrade
Caldwell was known both within his community by his mega-church and in the national political sphere for his connections with the former president.
Caldwell became acquainted with Bush when he was Governor of Texas and went on to attend the 2000 Republican National Convention.
Although he said he was politically independent, Caldwell propagated Bush's work as governor, noting in particular Bush's stance on minorities and his belief in closing the economic segregation gap.
"The governor's plan will help to ensure that this God-given economic tide not only attracts more boats, but also repairs the leaking boats," Caldwell said during his speech at the RNC.
His ties to the Bush family continued through his presidential administration, starting when he offered the blessing at the inauguration of 2001 and continued until 2008 when he officiated Jenna Bush Hager's wedding at the family's Crawford, Texas ranch.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misspelled Caldwell's name. It has since been corrected.