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Press Release

Virginia Man Convicted For Investment Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – 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, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. 

Jason Byrnes, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Field Office, joins U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

“Baldwin’s Miracle Mansion was a house of lies,” said U.S. Attorney King in announcing the guilty verdict. “Using Biblical themes and empty promises to cover up the fraud, Baldwin engaged in an extensive scheme that caused significant monetary losses to his victims. My office is committed to uncovering investment fraud and ensuring that perpetrators like Baldwin face the criminal justice system.”

According to trial evidence and witness testimony, from 2009 to October 2021, Baldwin served as an Assistant Pastor and Musical Director for a church in Northern Virginia, and Chief Executive Officer of the Miracle Mansion, LLC (Miracle Mansion). As evidence established, over the course of the scheme, 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 entities located throughout the United States, including in Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia.

According to evidence presented at trial, as part of the fraudulent investment scheme, Baldwin created and distributed promotional materials to potential investors that described Miracle Mansion as “a one-of-a-kind entertainment complex that [would] reshape the face of family entertainment in the Washington Metropolitan region,” with a mission that “promotes family-focused inspiration, entertainment and enrichment anchored by a Biblical worldview.” In furtherance of the fraud, Baldwin also held in-person and virtual meetings with potential investors, during which he falsely claimed the investors’ money would be used to develop, create and construct Miracle Mansion, including to purchase the land on which Miracle Mansion would be located.

According to witness testimony, in furtherance of the scheme, Baldwin presented to investors several investment opportunities, including “GroundSwell 73,” which was described as “73 acres = 7,300 people, investing $73 per month, for 73 months.” Baldwin also represented to potential investors that The Kennedy Center and high-level executives at Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A had endorsed and supported Miracle Mansion. Contrary to Baldwin’s claims, high-level executives with Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A testified at trial that they neither knew nor supported Baldwin and his project.

Rather than using the victims’ money to create, develop and construct Miracle Mansion as promised, trial evidence established that Baldwin spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his personal lifestyle, including to pay for personal expenses, travel, and meals at restaurants, and to make credit card payments and cash withdrawals. He also used a portion 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, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine, and securities fraud, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $5 million fine. Baldwin is currently released on bond. A sentencing date has not been set.

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney King thanked the U.S. Secret Service for leading the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Caryn Finley and Kenneth Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are prosecuting the case.

Updated November 17, 2022

Financial Fraud