New Birth member speaks out about lawsuit against Eddie Long
Bishop Eddie Long faces more legal trouble, this time from members of his church.
October 21st, 2011
06:04 AM ET

New Birth member speaks out about lawsuit against Eddie Long

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Lillian Wells said she had been laid off from her job, gone into real estate, and was looking for extra income when she went to church one Sunday and heard about a “sure thing.”

Two years later, Wells said her house is weeks away from foreclosure, she can barely pay for medication and she’s lost at least $122,000 in retirement savings.

“I’ve been hurt,” Wells said. “I’m looking for resolution and restitution at this point, and I haven’t gotten that.”

Wells’ story is at the center of a lawsuit that pits her against Bishop Eddie Long, one of the nation’s most well-known televangelists, and a charismatic investor who Long reportedly compared to Moses.

Wells and nine others are suing Long, claiming he “coerced” them into investing in a Ponzi scheme that wiped out at least $1 million in their retirement savings.

The lawsuit said Long persuaded members of New Birth Missionary Church in Georgia to invest with Ephren Taylor Jr., a “child-prodigy entrepreneur” representing City Capital Corp. The lawsuit also names Taylor and City Capital as defendants.

Art Franklin, a spokesman for Long, said neither Long nor New Birth would comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes six months after Long reached an out-of-court settlement with four men who had accused him of pressuring them into sexual relationships.

In  October 2009,  Long invited Taylor to New Birth for a weeklong seminar called the “Wealth Tour Live.” Taylor urged church 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.

Taylor, however, was not licensed to sell investments and City Capital was insolvent, information Long and New Birth knew or should have known, the lawsuit said.

“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,” the lawsuit said.

Taylor could not be reached for comment. His one-time spokesperson said she no longer represented him and didn’t know how to contact him.

Calls to an Atlanta number for City Capital were met with a persistent busy signal.

Taylor, however, went public earlier this year after Long posted a YouTube video asking him to return about $1 million to New Birth members whose investments in City Capital had gone “sour.”

“Please do what’s right,” Long said, addressing Taylor in the video. “You’re a great fellow. You’re a great man. You do great things. Let’s settle this so these families can move on.”

Taylor responded with a public statement in which he said City Capital’s legal team had personally contacted New Birth to “resolve, refund and restructure any potential issues.”

Wells said she was never directly contacted by Taylor. She said she was contacted by some attorneys representing Taylor, who asked her to mail some documents to them so she could get her money back.

Wells said she mailed certified documents to a post office box given to her by the attorneys, but she did not hear from anyone and her letter was returned.

Wells, who has been a member of New Birth since 1987, said she was inspired when she first heard Taylor speak during a Sunday morning worship service at New Birth.

Long, according to the lawsuit, introduced Taylor to the congregation as a minister who would base everything he said on the word of God.

“They came down and said you don’t have to depend on the stock market, this is a sure thing, a guarantee of getting a return on your money because it’s not driven by the stock market,” she said.

When Long vouched for Taylor, Wells said she decided to invest her retirement savings. She never saw a return, though, and lost “in excess” of $122,000, the lawsuit claims.

Wells said she still attends and gives money to New Birth.

When asked if she trusted Long, she chuckled and sighed.

“That’s a difficult question. If I had the dollars to invest in something now, I wouldn’t go into one of the things that he would recommend.”

Though some of her co-plaintiffs have left New Birth, others remain, she said.

“We want to stay and see this through,” she said.

Wells said Long’s legal difficulties have taken a toll on the church. The church was half-full during summer worship services.

“It’s beginning to grow again,” she said. “People are coming back."

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Baptist • Christianity • Church • Courts • Pastors

soundoff (265 Responses)
  1. AlwaysDoubting

    "Wells said she still attends and gives money to New Birth".
    THAT about sums it up. People Want to be fooled, they even go back for second serves after being suckered. That's how 'commercial religions' work. What would the real Jesus say??
    Something about temple and money changers comes to mind... blessed are the poor, rich men and the eye of a needle...

    I dont feel sorry for these churchmembers. They want to be led by the nose, as long as it's in the name of something they believe in. No amount of education or argument would dissuade those people to drop fake religion. Take one look at Long's pimp suits and outfits, the message is all clear and before your eyes. And of course our tax structure lets these scoundrels cheat "tax free". Great, isn't it? I think Jesus, if he came back (at one of those many predicted armageddons) would be pretty p.o'ed at crooks. And he'd lecture the dumb flocks that going after money was never in his sermons. Amen

    December 2, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  2. ohsnap

    Never trust a man with a bad Jeri-Curl wig.

    November 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  3. big O

    In Miami, Fl. there is a pastor no I'm sorry now he is an apostle call Guillermo Maldonado with the same racket,
    cures heart desease, cures cancer, flat feet whatever your need is. I have a friend that lost alot of money and now
    is in danger of loosing his home because of some investment deal that the church El Rey Jesus promoted at the
    church all in the name of God.

    October 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  4. keith

    What about freedom of speech?

    October 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • keith

      I have one word. c o c k s u c k e r.

      October 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • michael

      all crooks know about their rights while cheating lying and stealing. This is what churches and specially mega-churches are all about. Nothing but crooks only interested in their own wealth.
      I talked to GOD and he told me that I am speaking the truth

      December 4, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  5. Frenchy

    This assembly and I use that label because it can't be a Church is just another circus using the Gospel to feel good about themselves.In the first place Long describes himself as a bishop there are no Bishops in the Baptist faith.He wears Catholic vestments outside of an occassional pastor wearing a Geneva preaching robe how is this the Baptist faith.These folks have got too wake up.

    October 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  6. AllenS

    I'm not making a blanket statement about religion here, but it should be fairly obvious... a TELE-Evangelist scammed you? Shock and surprise! Jesus would need to work out a long time to turn over all the money tables in churches like those.

    October 25, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  7. Poteet

    The proof you seek of the existence of God is right in your own existence! sceince nor evolution could have creat the depth of your ignorance & the power to maintain it.

    October 24, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  8. He_loves_me

    Religion is what causes people to go to church Sunday after Sunday, Relationship with God is what will prevent something like this from happening to a person.

    October 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  9. Everett Wallace

    this is what happens when you deal with sorcerers

    October 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • wait..

      .. aka priests and preachers of every belief system in the world

      October 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  10. Scott - other

    Well, god the good shepherd certainly seems to be asleep at the switch lately as far as protecting his flock from wolves and fleecing or is the just more evidence for its nonexistence?

    October 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • The real john

      But if he did protect them it would negate freewill. Learn.

      October 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • jwas1914

      You see Scott; even God has an answer for you. Many feel he is slow to respond but don’t understand why. “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) As you can see God is not one to sleep, you can be certain that he is watching patiently for his day. Why do you think he is waiting? “Because you do not know that the kindly [quality] of God is trying to lead you to repentance.” (Romans 2:4) He wants for all people to correct their ways before judgment day. He made it clear when he inspired his prophets to write “it is not far away, and my own salvation will not be late.” “Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” (Isaiah 46:13; Habakkuk 2:3) God gave us free will; the choice is yours.

      October 24, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • c-span

      What you call free will I call Social Darwinism. The grass hopper just tricked the ants out of their food for the winter. I am glad that our government will protect the ants when your god, only turns the other way and says.... It's your freewill. Sorry about the curve ball i sent to you with that preacher fella you were supposed to trust. I hope these people get their money back and learn valuable lesson from this.

      October 24, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • He_loves_me

      The Good Shepard sent his book the Bible to protect his people, if they studied it the way they are supposed to they would recognize wolves in sheeps clothing. There are too many church goers and not enough Christians.

      October 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Bizarre

      This whole "Good Shepherd" metaphor is weird. Why does a shepherd tend his sheep so well? For the money... and for dinner!

      A puppy or kitten sitter would have made a better story 🙂

      October 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • wait..

      Funny thing is, they themselves agree that they are sheep with a shepard man in sky pulling their strings to his will (oops sorry, its freewill – but live by these rules or BURN for eternity).. and they get bristled when someone points to them that they are such silly sheep..

      October 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • AlwaysDoubting

      jwas: it reads in Nabakimp 6:29 that "he forsaketh all who have no doubt". In Nabisco 2:36 it says: "all who believe in free will should talk to some of my jewish cousins who went to concentration camps. They are still mad at me because I didn't give them free will to walk out of the place. Don't let me get started, my beloved flock, the complaints are too many. Free will is highly overrated in my mighty opinion. Strike the lute and sing me a song."

      December 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • SSampson

      GOD supposedly has an answer for everything – OK – yeah....You can find answers for anything you want in the careful wordings of the Bible....(any answer you want to BELIEVE exists at least)

      The Bible is comprised of a selections of books – chosen out of hundreds of manuscripts – by MAN – and wasn't completed for hundreds of years AFTER the death of 'Jesus' (in the case of the Christian Bible)....

      With all that corruption in the early church.... do you really beleive that he Bible itself is made for ANYTHING other than controlling peoples minds???

      Jesus (according to Christians) spoke of charity – helping others REGARDLESS of sacrifice – and against wealth (at least when there was suffering around)..... He even said you could worship when 2 or 3 people were gathered together 'in his name'
      So we build HUGE Churches – spend millions on our gathering places while people die in our OWN streets – What do you think the Pope has for dinner?? Does the Vatican have heat??? Does Eddie Long have an old used car??? Is that 'ring' on his finger something his beloved 'Jesus' would have worn??

      Its all a load of contradictory garbage – more holes than a seive – more illogical answers for these holes than ants....And if all else fails... claim 'Faith' as the answer itself....

      December 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  11. LookAndSEE

    It's clear to see that these people don't know about the Kingdom of God.
    There is nothing in the Bible about how to line ure pockets. When I donate, I'm investing in Heaven, I don't expect a monetary return. These people go to Church for entertainment, they got what they were looking for. Now take some advice, Look for a Church which keep God's Commandments, not man's

    October 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • The way it is

      "It's clear to see that these people don't know about the Kingdom of God."

      They know as much as you do, which is zero.

      October 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • He_loves_me

      AMEN!! Gods word teachers those who love him to be content with what they have and store up their treasures in heaven not here on earth.

      October 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • AlwaysDoubting

      Money $$$ and heaven don't go together. Don't even mention them in the same sentence, sayeth Jesus.

      December 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  12. David Johnson

    It is a shame that the believer's trust and love for their deity "transfers" to those that say they represent their god(s). They are taught to shut off their critical thinking from birth. Is it any wonder the religious leaders find it so easy to take advantage of them?


    P.S. Is it just me or does everyone find evangelicals particularly sleazy? Watch some of the religious shows on in the late evening. I have to keep a barf bucket next to my recliner.

    October 22, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      That's because these people don't read the bible they claim to love. The apostle Paul said we are to test everything to make sure it is from God.

      October 24, 2011 at 6:11 am |
    • He_loves_me

      Yes I agree they are sleazy, just because someone preaches the word it does not mean they truely know and love God. Sad how many are deceived.

      October 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Thomas the Doubter

      "we are to test everything to make sure it is from God." How do we "test" anything from god, I thought it was faith alone that makes you go to heaven?
      Bar codes (oh no, mark of the beast), literal showings of god? Implanted Chip, godly fingerprints, Reality shows? Mirracles on the internet? What testing procedures do you suggest?

      December 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  13. David Johnson

    WoW! This fellow just keeps on giving.

    Is it just me, or does religion seem to worthless? If there was a god, would He allow the Eddie Longs of the world to fleece the faithful? Attack the young people?

    The Catholics are certainly no better. They consider young boys to be one of perks of the job.

    Either god doesn't care, or He doesn't exist. Even the owner of a dog is expected to control the animal and not let it hurt people. We shouldn't expect this of a god?


    October 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • jwas1914

      Hello David Johnson
      These are the reasons why people are losing complete faith in religion. Though; we must remember that religion does not save lives. People like this pastor or any person that claims to be representing God and does injustices to their followers are obviously not receiving God’s blessings. Anyone can claim to be a pastor or a Rabi, but how do we really know that they are truly God’s servants? This is where WE must “take in knowledge of the only true God and of the one whom [He] sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) If everyone would scrutinize the Holy Scriptures; the way Jehovah God intended, then many of us would avoid falling into the hands of what the Bible refers to as ‘false prophets and ravenous wolves’. (Matthew 7:15) Fortunately for us the Bible promises that the “evildoers themselves will be cutoff” from the earth. (Psalms 37:9) This is why the Apostle Paul described these individuals when he wrote that “those very things are, indeed, possessed of an appearance of wisdom in a self-imposed of worship and [mock] humility…but they are of no value in combating the satisfying of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:23) Do not think for one second that God is on their side for God’s people show their actions with love and truthfulness. I encourage you to read your Bible daily.

      With all my sincerity

      October 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Stanley

      Yeah, jwas, it's pretty clear what side your fine loving god is on. Again today we have more innocents slaughtered and more limbs lost all over the news while your god stands idly by and does absolutely fsck-all. No thanks, you can keep your sick Christian supersti-tions and your circular bible references.

      October 23, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      There is a difference between religion and faith. Faith is what we believe. Religion is a rip-off scam that makes money on what we believe: selling TV time, predicting the end of times, selling favors, selling candles and water, holding sensitivity sessions, writing books, running missions ... bibiddy bobiddy boo. Many (perhaps most) of the people in a church have no idea WHAT they believe. They like the coffee and donuts and singin' the songs

      October 24, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • David Johnson


      Pfui! All you preacher types want to explain what is wrong with others, by explaining the word of god. There are 38,000 different denominations of Christianity in the world. Each, by reading and studying the bible, believes they alone understand the word of god. Many believe only they will be going to heaven. since many are contradictory, all cannot be correct. LOL.

      What you have in common with all 38,000 is that you have absolutely no evidence that the Christian god actually exists. Or am wrong? Can you produce evidence?

      All you religious pukes want to start the conversation from an assumption that god exists. That is ridiculous. Would you allow me to explain the will of the fairies, living in my left shoe, before I convinced you that the fairies actually exist?


      October 24, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  14. WOT

    Judgment will began at the house of God! A women is a hoe who sells but a man who sells is payed twice!

    October 22, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  15. WOT

    You pay taxes and you still live in the USA!

    October 22, 2011 at 12:45 am |
  16. WOT

    Have I been banded, the truth is what God loves!

    October 22, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  17. Reality

    From p. 4:

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals (like Rev. Long) and atonement theology,

    October 22, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Spinner49

      I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. –Susan B. Anthony

      October 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm |


    October 22, 2011 at 12:05 am |


    October 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  20. John Richardson

    While I'm loathe to defend Eddie Long, pastors may revel in money, but they aren't necessarily terribly sophisticated themselves. It's an old con man trick to fool religious leaders or other people in positions of trust and then fleece the whole flock. There was a ponzi scheme directed at universities and non-profits back in the late 80s/early 90s, iirc, and quite a few of those taken in were supposedly sophisticated financial professionals. Others in the field spotted the fraud and that was how things began to unravel. But over and above the hardship of lost investments, there was a lot of well earned embarrassment amongst people who should have known better, IOW, I suspect in this case that Eddie Long acted foolishly and quite likely negligently, but not maliciously.

    October 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.