CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted a Virginia man who they say duped investors out of more than $740,000 by convincing them to help him build a 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 investors about Miracle Mansion, and solicited investments from a Charlotte-area church and its members. 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 charge carries a sentence of 20 years in prison.