Pastor Sentenced to Prison for Investment Fraud Scheme
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Alexandria pastor was sentenced today to 8 years in prison for a $2 million fraud scheme that victimized members of his congregation, clergymen, and prospective investors in a Nigerian oil scheme.
“Millender preyed upon the religious beliefs and charitable desires of more than two dozen victims and has demonstrated little to no remorse for his actions,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “His rampant fraud scheme has exacted a heavy emotional, spiritual and financial toll on his victims, and today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of his crime. My thanks to the trial team and our investigative partners for their terrific work on this righteous case.”
According to court documents and trial testimony, Terry Wayne Millender, 54, the former senior pastor of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria, operated 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 served as chief executive officer of MEMG. Millender and his co-conspirators recruited investors, many of whom invested their retirement funds in a shell company called Equity Trust that investors were falsely led to believe was a third party entity. To recruit investors, Terry Millender emphasized MEMG’s 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. Instead, the money Millender obtained from investors was used to conduct risky trading on the foreign exchange currency market and options trading, to make payments towards the purchase of a $1.75 million residence for Terry Millender and his wife, to purchase lavish furnishings for their home, and on other personal expenses. To conceal how they had actually used the money, Millender falsely assured investors that they would get their money back and blamed delays in repaying investors on the 2008 financial crisis, among other things.
After MEMG failed, Terry Millender created another entity called Kingdom Commodities Unlimited (KCU), which purportedly specialized in the brokering of Nigerian oil deals. Multiple victims entered into loan agreements with Millender, totaling over $450,000. Like MEMG, the KCU agreements lured prospective investors into giving the Millenders money by promising high rates of return and short term loans. The Millenders used the KCU lenders’ money to pay for their rent and golf trips, as well as a birthday party and other personal expenses.
Millender also failed to disclose any of the income he received from the MEMG and KCU fraud schemes on his income taxes. He was ordered to pay more than $2 million in restitution. This investigation was initiated after a victim of the MEMG scheme contacted authorities, including the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
“The fraudulent solicitation of investments through the US Mail not only jeopardizes people’s trust in the U.S. postal system, it threatens the overall financial health of our communities,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Peter Rendina, U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division. “With our partner law enforcement agencies, Postal Inspectors will continue to aggressively investigate these crimes and continue to ensure our customers’ trust in the United States Postal Service.”
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jamar K. Walker, Kimberly R. Pedersen, and Katherine L. Wong prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located 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.