Bishop Eddie Long came to the forefront of national news when he was accused of sexual misconduct by several young men under his authority as Pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. Long settled out of court with the four young men who accused him, stating,
“This decision was made to bring closure to this matter and to allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry.”
Several months later, Long was back in the news, this time under suspicion of financial misconduct for encouraging his congretation to invest in a company that was less than above-board.
Twelve former members of the church have filed suit against Long, asserting that Long was warned that the businessman, Ephren W. Taylor, not only $3 million (US) in debt, but running an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Taylor, introduced by Long as his friend, took money from church members and promptly lost more than a $1 million (US).
According to local paper, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, the attorney for four the plaintiffs, Jason Doss, stated,
“If Bishop Eddie Long hadn’t endorsed this they wouldn’t have invested.”
The church stated they have asked Taylor to repay the investors, including interest, and said,
“We remain hopeful that Ephren Taylor and companies related to him restore the funds that were taken from congregants at New Birth and churches around the county. We continue to cooperate as the case proceeds.”
According to a story filed by Religion News Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Taylor in 2012 with running a Ponzi scheme, and there is a civil case pending against him .
The SEC stated that Taylor made promises to his investors that their money would be used for charity, but he diverted the monies to pay off other investors and for personal uses.
David Woodcock, Director of the Fort Worth Regional SEC office, stated,
“He preyed upon investors’ faith and their desire to help others, convincing them that they could earn healthy returns while also helping their communities.”
For more information, commentary and relevant links, please read the story, here.