Eddie Long goes viral to help members recoup losses

Bishop Eddie Long made an unusual appearance on YouTube appealing to an investment company on behalf of several members who face financial hardships because of investments that went bad.

In the YouTube video, the well-known leader of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church said the church held a financial seminar a year or so ago to help members build wealth and a better quality of life. Long said several members invested through City Capital Corp., and that some retirement accounts related to those investments have tanked.

Long urged City Capital's former chief executive, Ephren Taylor,  and the companyto “do what’s right” and return the invested money with interest, if possible. He said neither he nor his DeKalb County megachurch benefited from the investing members did with City Capital.

The video was posted Sunday night, though it was not clear when Long made it.

In a press release Monday, Long said several members alerted him "about a troubling investment  matter that could eclipse a million dollars."  The release said Long decided to make a public appeal to help members resolve their "dispute with City Capital Corp. and its CEO Ephren Taylor."

Neither Capital City, based in California, nor Taylor could be reached for comment.

About 20 New Birth members were affected in the deals, according to Art Franklin, a church spokesperson. The video and release offered few specifics.

The video says Taylor resigned from City Capital on Oct. 22, citing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.  In announcing Taylor’s resignation, the company said his departure “was not the result of any disagreements with the Company regarding its operations, policies, or practices.” The company also announced that  Wendy J. Connor, also resigned, effective Oct. 31, as a director and chief operations officer, according to those documents.

Jeff M. Smuda was elected chairman and chief executive of the company the same day. Smuda is identified in the SEC filing as an expert in restructing companies to profitibility.

Long's press release said members have suffered deep financial hardships because of the matter. At least one faces home foreclosure, said  Franklin.

According to Franklin, Taylor visited the church in October 2009 as part of a national  financial empowerment tour. He said it was Taylor's first visit to the Lithonia church, which has roughly 25,000 members.

Long, who has been embroiled in recent months in lawsuits involving allegations of sexual abuse, said the matter “touches my heart deeply.”

In a 2009 Forbes article, Taylor was heralded as a young entrepreneur who designed and sold a video game to his friends when he was 12 years old and began designing Web sites when he was 13. He went to write at least one book and start other companies.