An Alexandria, Virginia pastor and his wife were arrested Sunday for allegedly defrauding members of their church of $1.2 million.
Victorious Life Church pastor Terry Wayne Millender, 52, his 56-year-old wife Brenda, and 55-year-old associate Grenetta Wells were indicted by a federal grand jury last Thursday on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.
According to FOX 5 D.C., the trio convinced members of the congregation to invest in their company, Micro-Enterprise Management Group, for charity. Allegedly, the company was supposed to help the underprivileged in developing countries by providing short-term loans to start businesses. Court documents state that investors gave the Millenders amounts totaling $40,000, $50,000, $84,000 and $400,000 for the philanthropic effort.
However, the money did not go to the needy. The Millenders and their associate used the $1.2 million collected for personal expenses and risky trading. FOX 5 D.C. reports that the trio took the funds and invested on the foreign exchange currency market and used it to purchase a $1.75 million home. When complaints arose, they blamed the 2008 financial crisis after investors asked for their money back.
Former church member and long-time friend Eric Brown tells reporters that he suspected wrongdoing and that the arrests are not surprising.
“I asked him like, ‘Hey, that’s a nice car,’ ” Brown recalls. “He said, ‘Yeah, $100,000 car. If you save up your money, God’s going to bless you.’ Come to find out now, it was actually part of our money.”