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Members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., who lost close to $1 million collectively in a Ponzi scheme have recouped some of that money in a civil suit involving Bishop Eddie Long and Ephren Taylor.
Though Taylor and Long have not admitted to any wrongdoing, they reached a confidential settlement with 13 former members of Long’s megachurch, reports MyFoxAtlanta.com.
“I somewhat blame New Birth, because when this happened, instead of really showing us love, we were kind of looked at as outcasts,” one of the victims who has recouped his money, J.B. Bailey, told Fox’s I-team.
Long, who allegedly received compensation for allowing Taylor to present his “investment opportunities,” introduced Taylor to the congregation as his “friend” and “brother” during a financial seminar in October 2009.
“Bishop Long really did not guard his flock the way he should have,” says Quentin Seay, one of the attorneys representing the investors.
Seay says the turning point in the case was when they discovered an internal memo written to Long by an employee about an unidentified caller who had attended Taylor’s seminars and “did not want the church to be taken advantage of."
“Bishop Long was given a very explicit warning,” Seay explains. “Basically, he was told exactly what was going to happen, and it materialized.”
Long released a YouTube video apology when the scandal first broke but has not commented on the settlement.
“I’m not mad at Bishop Long, just a little disappointed,” says Bailey, who says a book on spiritual abuse has helped him through the ordeal.
Bailey says his reason for speaking out “is to help others to see that they don’t need to become victimized.”
I-team reporter Dale Russell says a spokesperson for Long sent him an email saying, “This matter has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all those involved.”
In a 2012 lawsuit with the Securities Exchange Commission, a judge ordered $1.4 million to be repaid. The SEC claimed that Taylor raised around $11 million between 2008 and 2010, using the money to pay off other investors and cover personal expenses.
Taylor was last seen in Lenexa, Kan., in August, ABC News reported.
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