KSLA TV reports: A Shreveport financial planner and the pastor of a prominent United Methodist church in Houston are accused of bilking investors out more than $1 million.
A federal grand jury has indicted 55-year-old Gregory Alan Smith, of Shreveport, and 64-year-old Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, of Houston, U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced today.
Each is charged with six counts of wire fraud, four counts of money laundering and one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
An indictment is an accusation. A person is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The indictment alleges that:
Smith abused his influence and status as the manager and operator of Smith Financial Group LLC in Shreveport, and,
Caldwell used his influence and status as pastor of Windsor Village Church to lure investors to pay more than $1 million to invest in Historical Chinese bonds.
The U.S. attorney’s office reports that the bonds, issued by the former Republic of China prior to losing power to the Communist government in 1949, are not recognized by China’s current government and have no investment value.
Smith and Caldwell allegedly promised high rates of return, sometimes three to 15 times the value of the investments.
“Instead of investing the funds, the defendants used them to pay personal loans, credit card balances, mortgages, vehicle purchases and other personal expenses.”
Smith and Caldwell face 20 years in prison if convicted of wire fraud and/or conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
They also face 10 years in prison if convicted of money laundering and/or conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The two, if found guilty, also could be fined $1 million and ordered to make restitution, forfeit property and serve five years of federal supervised release once released from prison.