Bishop Eddie Long is embroiled in another lawsuit; this time from his own parishioners who accuse him of using his influence to endorse a financially troubled company, which they claim was little more than a fraudulent Ponzi scheme.
The 10 current and former members of Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia allege the Bishop persuaded them to invest in a scheme that wiped out at least $1 million in their retirement savings.
In October 2009, Long invited Ephren Taylor to a three-day financial seminar called the “Wealth Tour Live.” Taylor convinced members at the seminar to invest in “socially conscious investments” that would provide “guaranteed income,” according to the lawsuit filed in DeKalb County State Court.
However, it transpires Taylor was not licensed to sell investments and his company City Capital Corp was insolvent, information Long and New Birth should have known, according to the lawsuit filed in DeKalb County State Court.
“The entire Wealth Tour Live event and subsequent investments made by plaintiffs turned out to be nothing more than a fraudulent scheme designed to perpetuate an ongoing Ponzi scheme,” said the lawsuit.
One church member, Lillian Wells, 60, says she lost her entire life savings of $122,000, and her home is now facing foreclosure next month.
“Long used his power and authority to coerce plaintiffs and other church members to trust defendants Ephren Taylor” and his companies, said the lawsuit.
Earlier this year, the megachurch pastor posted a video on YouTube video asking Taylor to return the money.
“Please do what’s right,” Long said, addressing Taylor in the video. “You’re a great fellow, a great man and you do great things. Let’s settle this so these families can move on.”
Although it is unclear whether Long participated in the scheme, or if he knew of City Capital’s financial standing, but the lawsuits contents both the church and Long were compensated for soliciting the investment.
Art Franklin, a spokesman for Long declined to comment on the lawsuit. Taylor could not be reached for comment.
This latest lawsuit against Long, New Birth, Taylor and his companies, is a major blow for the embattled Long, who six months ago reached an out of court settlement with five men who accused him of sexual misconduct.