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 fraudulent, 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.
The defendants will make their initial appearances this afternoon at 2 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Alexandria in front of Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan.
Each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, if convicted. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Terrence P. McKeown, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine L. Wong is prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:16-cr-239.