A pastor and his wife were arrested for allegedly being involved in a $1.2 million fraud scheme against members of their congregation at the Victorious Life Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Terry Wayne Millender, 52, senior pastor of the church, along with his wife Brenda Millender, 56, were arrested on Sunday, October 23. A third affiliate of the church, Grenetta Wells, 55, was arrested on Monday, October 24.
The Millenders were founding members of MEMG, and Wells served as chief operating officer. They 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, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The indictment claims some investors gave the Millenders sums totaling $40,000, $50,000, $84,000 and $400,000.
The money was allegedly used by the trio to conduct risky trading on the foreign exchange currency market, options trading, payments toward the purchase of a $1.75 million residence for the Millenders and other personal expenses for the defendants, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In an effort to conceal how they had actually used the money, the defendants allegedly assured investors that they would get their money back and blamed delays in repaying investors on the 2008 financial crisis.
They were held without bond until a hearing is conducted. If convicted, all three defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The pastor and his wife have five children.