A federal grand jury has indicted a Virginia man for allegedly duping a North Carolina church and its members to invest more than $740,000 in a fraudulent religion-themed family entertainment venue, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte said in a news release that Michael Mandel Baldwin, 52, of Alexandria, Virginia, made fraudulent statements to people at the church about “Miracle Mansion” and then solicited investments. Baldwin also made the claims to individuals and entities across the U.S., including in Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia, according to the indictment.
As part of the scheme, prosecutors said, Baldwin created and distributed promotional materials to potential investors that described Miracle Mansion as “a one-of-a-kind entertainment complex” for the Washington, D.C. region. It would “provide a high-quality performing arts experience that promotes family-focused inspiration, entertainment and enrichment anchored by a Biblical worldview.”
In addition, Baldwin falsely told potential investors that The Kennedy Center and high-level executives at Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A had endorsed and supported Miracle Mansion, according to the news release.
Baldwin is formally charged with wire fraud and securities fraud. Each indictment carries a sentence of 20 years in prison.
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