The jig is up for an Alexandria, Va., pastor and his wife, who have been convicted on federal charges of defrauding their friends and congregants out of millions of dollars, according to the Washington Post.
Pastor Terry Millender and his wife, Brenda, promised their friends and flock that by investing in the Millenders’ Christian-based company, Micro-Enterprise Management Group, they not only would reap financial rewards but also would be sowing good in developing countries.
Turns out, it was all a scam.
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Their faithful investors gave the Millenders, who ran Victorious Life Church, sums ranging from $40,000 to $4 million. The pair, along with a friend, Grenetta Wells, engaged in risky currency trading, using the money to lure more investors—and to make payments on the Millenders’ $1.75 million Springfield, Va., home.
The Washington Post lays out exactly how the Millenders blew their friends’ money:
After $1.4 million in microlending money was squandered and the company failed, the couple started another firm focused on the Nigerian oil industry. Investors in the microlending business were told that through the new venture they would be repaid. That company too collapsed, and their investors lost over $600,000. Again, prosecutors said much of the money went to pay the couple’s personal expenses, including golf games and rent.
One of my favorite songs is “Do-Wrong Pastors Attempting to Explain Themselves,” and on this count, Terry Millender didn’t disappoint.
He claimed that he hadn’t defrauded anyone—he simply mismanaged their money. As the Post reports, Millender told the court he acted “stupidly, not criminally—not from my heart.”
Well, that changes everything.
He also claimed that his companies failed because of the 2008 financial crisis and other unforeseeable events, like the banking crisis in Ukraine.
But the pastor also attempted to justify lining his pockets with his flocks’ savings.
“You can’t do good and be poor at the same time,” Millender testified. “You can’t help the poor and be poor; it makes no sense.”
Up next for the Millenders, who were convicted Monday, is a March sentencing hearing, where they face up to 20 years in prison.
Read more at the Washington Post.