An Alexandria pastor and his wife were arrested Sunday after being charged in an alleged $1.2 million fraud scheme that targeted their congregation, prosecutors said.
Terry Wayne Millender, 52, and Brenda Millender, 56, the founders of the Victorious Life Church, ran a company called Micro-Enterprise Management Group that claimed to help poor people in developing countries by providing small, short-term loans for businesses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a statement.
Between 2008 and 2015, the Millenders recruited investors by discussing their company’s Christian mission, but they actually used the funds they raised for risky trading in foreign currency markets and for the purchase of a $1.8 million home, prosecutors said. They said the defendants also blamed delays in paying back their investors on the 2008 financial crisis.
The Millenders and another member of Victorious Life Church accused of being involved in the fraudulent business, 52-year-old Grenetta Wells of Alexandria, were indicted on Oct. 20, prosecutors said. They face charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering that could bring up to 20 years in prison, according to prosecutors.
Drew Hutcheson, an attorney for Terry Millender, said his client was arrested after church on Sunday with no warning.
“I find that an interesting stylistic approach,” Hutcheson said.
Brenda Millender was also arrested Sunday. Her attorney was not immediately available for comment. Wells was arrested Monday, and her attorney declined to comment.