CHARLOTTE, NC — A federal jury in Charlotte has convicted Michael Mandel Baldwin, 53, of Alexandria, Virginia, for orchestrating an investment scheme that defrauded victims of more than $800,000, said Dena J. King, US Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, known .
Jason Byrnes, United States Secret Service Special Agent in Charge, Charlotte Field Office, echoed today’s announcement by US Attorney King.
“Baldwin’s Miracle Mansion was a house of lies,” said US Attorney King when returning the guilty verdict. “Using biblical themes and empty promises to cover up the scam, Balwin engaged in an extensive scheme that caused significant financial loss to his victims. My office is committed to uncovering investment fraud and ensuring offenders like Baldwin are brought to justice.”
According to trial evidence and testimony, Baldwin served as associate pastor and director of music for a church in Northern Virginia from 2009 to October 2021 and as chief executive officer of Miracle Mansion, LLC (Miracle Mansion). As it turns out, during the course of the plan, Baldwin made numerous fraudulent representations to victim investors about the viability, legitimacy, and success of Miracle Mansion, and solicited investments from a Charlotte-area church and its members, as well as individuals and corporations based in the United States , including in Virginia, Arkansas, Florida and Georgia.
According to evidence presented at the trial, as part of the fraudulent investment plan, Baldwin created and distributed promotional materials to potential investors, which presented Miracle Mansion as “a one-of-a-kind entertainment complex that… [would] to reshape the face of family entertainment in the Washington metro area,” with a mission to promote “family-centered inspiration, entertainment, and enrichment anchored by a biblical worldview.” To further the scam, Baldwin also held in-person and virtual meetings with potential investors, during which he falsely claimed that investors’ money would be used to develop, create, and build Miracle Mansion, including purchasing the land on which Miracle Mansion sits would lie.
According to witnesses, Baldwin presented several investment opportunities to investors in support of the program, including “GroundSwell 73,” which was described as “73 acres = 7,300 people investing $73 a month for 73 months.” Baldwin also told potential investors that the Kennedy Center and senior executives from Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A had endorsed and supported Miracle Mansion. Contrary to Baldwin’s claims, senior Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A executives testified in court that they neither knew nor supported Baldwin and his project.
Instead of using the victims’ money to fund the creation, development, and construction of Miracle Mansion as promised, evidence from the trial revealed that Baldwin spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his personal lifestyle, including paying for personal expenses, travel, and restaurant meals using credit card payments and make cash withdrawals. He also used some of the victims’ money to pay others involved in Miracle Mansion and to make Ponzi-style payments to some of the investors.
The federal jury convicted Baldwin of wire fraud with a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine and securities fraud with a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $5 million fine. Baldwin is currently out on bail. A sentencing date has not been set.
With today’s announcement, US Attorney King thanked the US Secret Service for leading the investigation.
Assistant US Attorneys Caryn Finley and Kenneth Smith of the US Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are prosecuting the case.