ALEXANDRIA, Va. (ABC7) - Terry Wayne Millender, 52, the senior pastor at Victorious Life Church in Alexandria, along with his 56-year-old wife Brenda and 55-year-old congregant Grenetta Wells appeared in federal court in Alexandria on Monday. Prosecutors accuse all three of being linked to a $1.2 million fraud against their own congregation.
The indictment alleges Millender, and others, convinced a number of congregants to serve as investors in his company, called Micro-Enterprise Management Group (MEMG), which gave short-term loans to the poor in developing countries. The company marketed itself as a Christian philanthropic organization.
According to the indictment, multiple members of the church gave tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars to Millender’s cause.
Prosecutors claim these investors were promised rates of return but instead much of the money was used by the defendants to make risky investments and for personal expenses including payment toward a $1.75 million home in Springfield, Va. The indictment says the Millenders were evicted from the 6-bedroom home in 2010 and blamed the bad economy for delays in paying back investors.
The church did not have its own physical building — congregants met at West Potomac High School in Alexandria.
A former congregant, who now lives out of state, tells ABC7 News that victims she knew didn’t suspect wrong-doing until they didn't get their money back and she says they got really angry when they saw the pastor driving a fancy car, wearing tailored suits and living in a beautiful home.
Charges in this case include conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. Each defendant, if convicted, could spend years behind bars.