Leslie Collins, Kansas City Business Journal, October 9, 2014
Ephren Taylor II once touted himself as “the youngest African-American CEO of any publicly traded company ever.”
Now, the 32-year-old Overland Park resident and former CEO has pleaded guilty to a $7 million conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud that involved hundreds of investors nationwide. The U.S. attorney office in Atlanta is prosecuting the case.
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Taylor hosted a nationwide “Building Wealth Tour” in which he visited numerous church congregations to present wealth management seminars. During the seminars, he touted his investment knowledge and encouraged congregation members to invest in promissory notes to support small businesses and in sweepstakes machines.
The release said Taylor made false claims about the revenues and returns, including telling churchgoers that 20 percent of the profits would be donated to charity and that the sweepstakes machines would generate a 300 percent return on investment while being 100 percent risk-free. None of the investments were profitable.
Taylor, along with former City Capital COO Wendy Connor, operated the scheme from approximately April 2009 to October 2010. Connor has pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of money taken by fraud.