Houston Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell turns himself in to face fraud charges

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Houston Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell turns himself in to face fraud charges. (KTRK)

Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell made his first appearance Thursday afternoon in a Louisiana courtroom on fraud charges.

It's probably a walk he never expected to take.

Led by his defense attorney Dan Cogdell, the megachurch pastor of Windsor United Methodist appeared in court for the first time to defend himself against serious federal charges. Two weeks ago, Caldwell told Eyewitness News in an exclusive interview that he did not defraud anyone.

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Kirbyjon Caldwell walks into federal court in Shreveport

"I am absolutely innocent," he said at the time. "I think the charges are baseless, I'm grateful for all the support I'm receiving in the community."

Prosecutors allege that the pastor, along with co-defendant Greg Smith, sold worthless prewar Chinese bonds to dozens of investors. They allege the business partners bilked the victims out of millions.

Smith, a financial advisor that has had previous legal troubles, works in Shreveport. When Eyewitness News visited his office before court, a man opened the door only to shut it as we identified ourselves.
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Mega-church pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell is expected to appear in Federal court in Shreveport

Smith also appeared in court with his Dallas-based defense attorney. Neither he nor his attorney made comments after the quick 20-minute court hearing.

Pastor Caldwell, on the other hand, walked with family and attorneys to awaiting microphones.

"As everyone knows, a grand jury hears one side and one side only," said Cogdell. "The grand jury didn't hear the evidence the trial jury will hear. The grand jury didn't hear for Kirbyjon Caldwell like the trial jury will hear, so we're looking forward to our day in court, when we can actually go forward and present our defense."
Pastor Caldwell had to give up his passport and promise not to contact victims without court permission. Other than that, he was released and can pretty much preach and continue all regular activities.

"We believe in our hearts and in our souls that the jury is going to do the right thing at the end of this trial, and acquit Pastor Caldwell of all charges."

When asked, Caldwell would only say, "God bless you," before walking off.

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Lawyer for Houston megachurch pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell addresses fraud charges today

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