A Houston megachurch pastor with ties to former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush is planning to turn himself in to authorities after he was indicted for orchestrating a $3.5million fraud, his lawyer has said.
The pastor, Kirbyjon Caldwell, and Gregory Alan Smith, a Louisiana financial planner, were brought up on federal charges on Thursday.
According to the indictment, Caldwell and Smith used their 'influence and status' to lure dozens of 'vulnerable and elderly' people to invest in worthless Republic of China bonds.
The bonds were issued after World War II, but became worthless when the Communists took over the country in 1949, kicking out the old government who issued the bonds.
Houston megachurch pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, left, and Louisiana financial planner Gregory Alan Smith, right, have been accused in a $3.5million fraud
Their only value today is as collectibles.
Caldwell's attorney said his client plans to surrender to authorities, he told ABC News.
'The surrender date will be arranged on Monday,' said attorney Dan Cogdell.
Caldwell is likely to appear before a magistrate judge at the US Attorney's Office in the Western District of Louisiana for his arraignment, his lawyer said.
In April 2010, Caldwell (whose head is circled above) was among 90 pastors invited to the White House by President Barack Obama as part of an effort by the then-president to counter speculation about his religion. Victoria and Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church are seen right
After Obama gave a speech referencing the pastors as 'brothers and sisters in Christ', Caldwell (seen above circled) said : '[Obama's] statement was one of the clearest, if not the clearest, strongest declaration of Christian faith ever uttered by a sitting president'
'Rev. Caldwell and I will travel to Shreveport and seek a bond from the judge, which I believe the government will agree to,' he said.
There was no comment from the US Attorney's Office.
Prosecutors say Calwell, the head of the 14,000-member Windsor Village United Methodish Church, and Smith, the operator and manager of Smith Financial Group LLC, knew the bonds held no value but sold them anyway and then used the money to fund their expensive lifestyles.
The duo are said to have cheated 29 investors out of $3.5million between April 2013 and April 2014.
Some of these investors put their whole life savings at stake on the bonds.
Caldwell used his money to pay the mortgage on his Houston home, which according to public records is worth more than $2.5million (if found guilty, he may have to forfeit the home).
Smith on the other hand, used the money to buy luxury vehicles, the indictment reveals.
Caldwell, 64, is a close friend of former President George W. Bush, and gave the benediction at both of Bush's inaugurations. The two are pictured above in 2003
Caldwell is the head of the 14,000 member Windsor Village congregation. Prosecutors say he used his influence to convince vulnerable and elderly people to invest in worthless Republic of China bonds
The two allegedly promised their investors returns of three to 15 times in a matter of weeks, and when the money never materialized, they made up elaborate excuses.
According to the filings, Caldwell 'used religious references to give investors hope they would soon be repaid' telling them to 'remain faithful'.
Smith, 55, who