Pastor and wife indicted for $1.2 million fraud targeting church members
ALEXANDRIA, VA. – The senior pastor of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria, along with his wife, were arrested yesterday for their alleged involvement in a $1.2 million fraud scheme that victimized members of their congregation.
Terry Wayne Millender, 52, his wife Brenda Millender, 56, both of Alexandria, and Grenetta Wells, 55, also of Alexandria, were indicted by a federal grand jury on October 20, on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. The charges were unsealed today after Wells was arrested.
According to the indictment, the defendants operated a company called Micro-Enterprise Management Group (MEMG), a Virginia company that alleged to help poor people in developing countries by providing small, short-term loans to start or expand existing businesses by working with a network of established micro-finance institutions. Terry Millender and Brenda Millender were founding members of MEMG, while Terry Millender served as chief executive officer and Wells served as chief operating officer.
The defendants recruited investors by emphasizing its Christian mission and use of the funds to help the poor, promising guaranteed rates of return, assuring investors that the loans’ principal was safe and backed by the assets of MEMG. The indictment alleges that these representations were false, and that the money was actually used by the defendants to conduct risky trading on the foreign exchange currency market, options trading, payments towards the purchase of a $1.75 million residence for Terry and Brenda Millender, and other personal expenses for the defendants. To conceal how they had actually used the money, the defendants are alleged to have falsely assured investors that they would get their money back and blamed delays in repaying investors on the 2008 financial crisis, among other things.
Each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, if convicted.
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