SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced today that a federal grand jury returned a 13-count indictment charging a Shreveport financial planner and a pastor of a Houston church of bilking investors out more than $1 million.
Gregory Alan Smith, 55, of Shreveport, and Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 64, of Houston, Texas, are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering. Additionally, Smith and Caldwell are charged in two separate counts of money laundering.
According to the indictment, Smith used his influence and status as the operator and manager of Smith Financial Group LLC in Shreveport, and Caldwell used his influence and status as pastor at a prominent Houston church to lure investors to pay more than $1 million to invest in Historical Chinese bonds.
These bonds were issued by the former Republic of China prior to losing power to the communist government in 1949. They are not recognized by China’s current government and have no investment value. Smith and Caldwell 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.
The defendants each face 20 years in prison for the conspiracy to commit wire fraud count and for the wire fraud counts. They also face 10 years in prison for the conspiracy to commit money laundering count and the money laundering counts. They also face a $1 million fine, restitution, forfeiture and five years of supervised release.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth D. Reeg is prosecuting the case.