Virginia Man Indicted For Investment Scheme
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A federal grand jury in Charlotte has indicted a Virginia man for allegedly orchestrating an investment scheme that defrauded victims of more than $740,000, announced William T. Stetzer, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Reginald DeMatteis, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Field Office, joins Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer in making today’s announcement.
According to allegations contained in the indictment, from 2009 to October 2021, Michael Mandel Baldwin, 52, of Alexandria, Virginia, was the Chief Executive Officer of the Miracle Mansion, LLC (Miracle Mansion). The indictment alleges that over the course of the scheme, Baldwin made numerous fraudulent representations to victim-investors about the purpose, legitimacy, and success of Miracle Mansion, and solicited investments from a Charlotte-area church and its members, and other individuals and entities located throughout the United States, including in Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia.
As part of the fraudulent investment scheme, Baldwin allegedly 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 “to provide a high-quality performing arts experience that promotes family-focused inspiration, entertainment and enrichment anchored by a Biblical worldview.” Baldwin also held in-person and virtual meetings with potential investors, during which he falsely claimed the investors’ money would be used to develop Miracle Mansion, including to purchase the land on which Miracle Mansion would be located. As alleged in the indictment, Baldwin also falsely 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. The indictment further alleges that Baldwin described to investors several investment opportunities, including “GroundSwell 73,” which was described as “73 acres = 7,300 people, investing $73 per month, for 73 months.”
The indictment also alleges that, contrary to Baldwin’s representations to investors, rather than using the victims’ money to further Miracle Mansion’s purpose, 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 allegedly used a portion of the victims’ money to pay others involved in Miracle Mansion, and to make Ponzi style payments to other investors.
Baldwin is charged with 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.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The U.S. Secret Service led the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Caryn Finley of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is prosecuting the case.