The man who schemed New Birth Missionary Baptist Church members out of millions of dollars in suburban Atlanta — and bilked more than 400 people out of $16 million nationwide — was given almost 20 years in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.
Ephren Taylor II, the former CEO of the defunct City Capital Corporation, directed a nationwide Ponzi scheme that targeted church-goers, Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn’s office said. Taylor, 32, of suburban Kansas City, Mo., must also pay $15,590,752.81 in restitution, Horn’s office said in an emailed statement.
“Taylor’s ‘Building Wealth’ tour accomplished exactly the opposite, victimizing hundreds of investors and leaving many of them financially ruined,” Horn said. “At churches across the country he touted himself as a socially conscious investor, but his investment opportunities were nothing but a Ponzi scheme designed to build his own personal wealth. This sentencing brings a measure of justice to those who remain devastated by his actions.”
During this tour, Taylor falsely claimed that 20 percent of profits were donated to charity, according to investigators. One of the churches hardest hit on the “Building Wealth Tour” New Birth where Bishop Eddie Long is pastor. Taylor and his associate, Wendy Connor, swindled 80 people out of more than $2 million because of Taylor’s scheme, Horn’s office said.
As part of the scheme, Taylor and Connor encouraged investors to use self-directed IRAs to make their investments. Many victims used their retirement savings to invest under the scheme, expecting these funds to be used to fund the investments pushed by Taylor.
But in late 2010, the scheme collapsed, and Taylor’s victims lost their investments, according to prosecutors. On Oct. 8, Taylor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He has been sentenced to 19 years and 7 months in federal prison.
Connor, 46, of Raleigh, N.C., pleaded guilty the same day to the interstate transportation of money taken by fraud. She was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,818,299.13.