Caldwell, who used to lead Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, pled guilty of the offense on March 2020. He reportedly showed regret and accepted full responsibility for what he did.
Aside from the sentence that will start in June 2021, he was also ordered to pay $125,000 fine and $3,588,500 restitution, which he already paid. After his sentence, he will still be on supervised release for one year.
Caldwell and his co-defendant Gregory Alan Smith deceived investors into buying Chinese bonds without informing them that those were worthless aside from being souvenirs. They raised $3.5 million from 2013 to 2014 from the scheme, but the investors did not receive anything in return.
“The defendants in this case abused the trust that the victims had placed in them,” Acting United States Attorney Alexander Van Hook said in a statement. “This defendant used his status as the pastor of a megachurch 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 got around $900,000 from the scheme, which he allegedly used to pay his mortgages, personal loans, and credit cards, as well as to maintain his luxurious lifestyle. Smith was also convicted and sentenced to 6 years in prison.