What to Know
- The defendants allegedly operated a company that claimed to help poor people in developing countries, prosecutors said.
- They are accused of using investors' money for personal reasons, including payments toward a $1.75 million house.
- The senior pastor of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria and his wife were arrested Sunday.
A senior pastor and his wife defrauded members of their Virginia congregation of more than a million dollars, prosecutors said.
Victorious Life Church Pastor Terry Wayne Millender; his wife, Brenda, and church member Grenetta Wells -- all of Alexandria -- were arrested Sunday in a $1.2 million scheme, allegedly operating a company that claimed to help the poor and recruited investors with the false promise of guaranteed return rates, according to an indictment released by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of Virginia.
The company claimed a Christian mission of providing loans to start or expand existing businesses in developing companies, prosecutors said, but actually used the money for personal reasons, including paymets toward the Millenders' $1.75 million home.
They blamed the Great Recession, among other things, for the delayed repayments, prosecutors said.
Federal authorities began investigating three years ago when some investors became suspicious.
The Millenders' attorney, Drew Hutcheson, said he thought investigators closed the case because he hadn't heard from prosecutors in a while.
In court Monday, Brenda Millender was released on her personal recognizance, but Terry Millender and Wells were ordered held. Another hearing is set for Tuesday.
Terry Millender served as chief executive officer of the company and Wells as chief operating officer.