The Securities and Exchange Commission claims that a businessman endorsed by Bishop Eddie Long bilked investors, including members from Long's church, of more than $11 million in a Ponzi scheme.
The SEC complaint alleges that Ephren Taylor Jr. and his company, City Capital Corporation, targeted investors from African-American churches between 2008 and 2010. They were told their money would go to support charities and businesses in poor communities.
Instead, Taylor is accused of diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars for his personal use.
Bishop Long is not named in the SEC suit. But last year, some members of his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church filed a separate suit in DeKalb County naming Taylor, the church, and Long.
The plaintiffs claim that during an investment seminar conducted at the church in 2009, Bishop Long and Taylor encouraged them to invest in City Capital, and that they lost more than $1 million.
Attorney Jason Doss, who represents the plaintiffs in that lawsuit, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that what's been uncovered so far appears to be "widespread fraud."
"If you speak to our clients, they were very active in their church and put a lot of weight in what Bishop Long said," Doss said. "The types of investments he peddled were supposed to be socially conscious. He used all the bells and whistles and terms that would attract a church-going person."
That lawsuit is ongoing.
Taylor has not commented on the SEC lawsuit filed this week. New Birth Missionary Baptist Church issued a statement saying they were hopeful for a quick resolution.
"Although this has been a very difficult process for all involved, we have always remained faithful that Ephren Taylor and City Capital Corporation would be held accountable for their actions in this matter," the statement read.
"We are prayerful that they will move swiftly to do the right thing and heal and restore all those who have been harmed by their actions," it said.