Bishop Eddie Long settles Ponzi scheme lawsuit with church members

Ponzi scheme scam artist Ephram Taylor
Ponzi scheme scam artist Ephren Taylor

Despite the fact that Atlanta-based Bishop Eddie Long continues to deny that he did anything wrong in the infamous Ponzi scheme scandal, he nevertheless forked over some of the money that New Birth Missionary Baptist Church members gave pastor and “financial guru” Ephren Taylor in a closed settlement, the media reports.

According to My Fox Atlanta, 13 members of the Lithonia, Ga., church managed to recoup some of their monetary investments in a civil suit against scandal-plagued megachurch pastor Long and alleged Ponzi scheme financial guru Ephren Taylor. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed to the public.

The ex-church members went after Long, accusing him of using his influence and stature to bewitch them into 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 lawsuit marked the latest in a series of damaging scandals for Long and the beginning of debilitating legal entanglements for Taylor. Long’s international religious empire was rocked to its foundation after he was sued by five former male churchgoers for using gifts and trips to coax them into unwanted sexual relationships.

Taylor was also beset by problems beyond the Ponzi scheme lawsuit. In 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Taylor in 2012 with running the scheme. They reported that Taylor helped to persuade people with the promise to use investments for charity and to assist blighted areas. However, the SEC said Taylor used the monies 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.

In all, Taylor swindled unwitting investors out of $11 million over a two-year period from 2008 to 2010 from New Birth and other churches around the county. The SEC said Taylor hoodwinked upward of 1,000 investors, most of whom were working-class people and retirees who had saved all their lives by pledging to invest in real estate with the promise of producing 20 percent returns.

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 did not invest in Taylor’s business venture.

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