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 former pastor and his wife were convicted of a $2 million fraud scheme that stole from members of their congregation and investors.
Terry Wayne Millender, 53, and Brenda Millender, 57, were convicted by a federal jury Monday and could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, according to the United States Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Terry Millender is the former senior pastor of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria.
Prosecutors said the couple operated a company called Micro-Enterprise Management Group, a Virginia company that alleged to help poor people in developing countries by providing small, short-term loans by working with a network of established micro-finance institutions.
They recruited investors by emphasizing its Christian mission while promising guaranteed returns.
However, the jury found the Millenders used the money to make risky trades on the foreign exchange currency market, options trading, and payments toward the purchase of a $1.75 million home and other personal expenses.
When investors sought their returns, the Millenders blamed delays in repayment, in part, on the 2008 financial crisis, according to the complaint.
After the first scheme failed, prosecutors said they created another company Kingdom Commodities Unlimited, which they alleged specialized in the brokering of Nigerian oil deals. They were able to get more than $600,000 from investors and used the money to pay for rent, golf trips, a birthday party and other personal expenses.
The two will be sentenced on March 30, 2018.
A co-conspirator, Grenetta Wells, 56, of Alexandria, who served as chief operating officer at MEMG, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 12, 2018.