Thirteen members of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church managed to recoup some of their monetary investments in a civil suit against controversial Bishop Eddie Long and alleged Ponzi scheme financial guru Ephren Taylor. The victim’s settlement was kept under wraps and neither Long nor Taylor have admitted to any wrongdoing, according to My Fox Atlanta.
The former parishioners accused Long of prodding them in to investing in a company that was operating the alleged Ponzi scheme. After Long introduced Taylor as his “friend and brother,” the congregants reportedly lost more than $1 million investing in the self-described “social capitalist’s” nonexistent ventures.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Taylor in 2012 with running a Ponzi scheme. SEC officials said he promised to use investments for charity and to assist blighted areas, but instead he allegedly took the monies he received to pay other investors and finance other business ventures. Taylor also took the investor’s monies to cover personal expenditures like bankrolling the payroll for his own companies and paying rent.
The SEC contends that Taylor raised more than $11 million over a two-year period from 2008 to 2010 from New Birth and other churches around the county. He is also alleged to have targeted more than 1,000 investors, most of whom were hard-working people who had saved all their lives.
Taylor had reportedly issued a promissory note informing the New Birth members that he was investing their money in real estate, guaranteeing a 20 percent return.
When news of the Ponzi scandal broke, Long released a video of himself pleading with Taylor to “do the right thing” and to confront the accusations of fraud. According to Jason Doss, attorney for the former New Birth church members who sued, though, “If Bishop Eddie Long hadn’t endorsed this they wouldn’t have invested,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year.
Long, who was involved in a scandalous lawsuit involving four young men who accused him of sexual coercion, did not invest in Taylor’s business venture.