Houston pastor pleads guilty in investment scheme

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston megachurch pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell pleaded guilty Wednesday after being accused of defrauding people of millions using phony bonds.

Caldwell was indicted two years ago in federal court on wire fraud and money laundering charges.

SEE ALSO: Houston megachurch pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell indicted for wire fraud and money laundering

Court papers state the pastor and investment advisor Gregory Smith sold nearly $3.5 million in worthless pre-revolutionary Chinese bonds to the elderly and vulnerable investors.

Both men face years in federal prison if convicted, and could be forced to pay back millions and forfeit a home the pastor owns in Houston.

READ MORE: Houston megachurch pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell insists bonds he sold are legitimate

Caldwell is the senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church. He has a congregation of more than 16,000 people.

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According to KTBS-TV, he had previously pleaded not guilty, but earlier this month, his request for a third continuance in his case was denied.

The government argued that Caldwell's trial didn't need to be delayed because one of the victims is now unavailable due to her advanced dementia and another has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"Some of these victims have been without hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2013. For many of them, it represents their life savings, and the dragging out of this prosecution compounds their loss," according to the government.

Smith pleaded guilty last year and will be sentenced on May 4.

Caldwell will be sentenced on July 22.

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