SHREVEPORT, La. – Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that Gregory Alan Smith, 58, of Shreveport, Louisiana, was sentenced today by United States District Judge S. Maurice Hicks, Jr. to 72 months (6 years) in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Smith was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,588,500, as well as a fine of $100,000.
Smith, formerly a financial investment advisor in Shreveport, persuaded multiple victims to invest approximately $3.5 million with his co-defendant, Kirbyjon H. Caldwell (“Caldwell”). According to evidence presented to the court, Smith began approaching existing clients, friends, and acquaintances in the spring of 2013 about an investment opportunity in historical chinese bonds. Smith told these potential investors that they would be obtaining a partial ownership interest in the bonds and that they would receive exponential returns on their investments in a short period of time. Smith neglected to tell these individuals that historical chinese bonds, bonds issued by the former Republic of China prior to losing power to the communist government in 1949, held no value. In fact, the bonds were considered by the Securities and Exchange Commission to be mere collectables with no value outside of the memorabilia market.
After Smith made the fraudulent pitch, victim-investors who believed and trusted Smith agreed to invest in these bonds. These victims were provided with a “participation agreement” indicating that if the sale of the bonds failed to occur within a certain number of days, the invested funds would be returned within a defined period of time. They were instructed to wire funds to various bank accounts held by or controlled by Caldwell or his representative. The funds were then divided between Smith, Caldwell, and others. Smith received $1.08 million of the total $3.5 million and used it to pay down loans, purchase two luxury sport utility vehicles, place a down payment on a vacation property, and maintain his lifestyle. The victims never received the promised returns from these chinese bonds.
“This case proves that even those you trust to have your best interest at heart sometimes may not. The victims in this case thought their trusted advisor and friend would never lead them astray but sadly, he was merely a con man who led them down an unwanted path,” stated Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook. “Our office will continue to be vigilant in holding defendants such as this accountable for their fraudulent actions.”
Sentencing for Smith’s co-defendant, Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, is scheduled for December 3, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.
The FBI conducted the investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth D. Reeg and C. Mignonne Griffing prosecuted the case.
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