Pastor and wife convicted of defrauding Virginia congregants of $2M

A former senior pastor of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria and his wife were found guilty on Dec. 18 of defrauding their church members and investors out of $2 million which the two reportedly spent on personal luxuries.

(REUTERS / Truth Leem)A bank employee counts U.S. dollar notes during a photo opportunity at a bank in Seoul. May 4, 2010.

On Monday, a federal jury convicted 53-year-old Terry Wayne Millender and his 57-year-old wife Brenda Millender in a fraud scheme disguised as a company that provides short-term loans for poor people in developing countries. The U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia said the couple could be jailed for up to 20 years, NBC Washington detailed.

The former Virginia pastor and his wife ran a company called Micro-Enterprise Management Group and lured in investors through its Christian mission and the promise of financial returns. The jury, however, learned that the couple made risky foreign exchange trades and used the rest of the money for personal luxuries that included a $1.75 million home.

The Millenders initially cited the 2008 financial crisis as the reason for the delays in the investors' returns. They later formed a second company called Kingdom Commodities Unlimited, which they used to obtain $600,000 from investors for their golf trips, rent payments, and other personal expenses.

After the Millenders were arrested in October last year, they were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. The indictment said some of the investors gave the couple varying amounts of money from $40,000 to $400,000, Fox 5 DC reported.

For former Victorious Life Church member Eric Brown, the Millenders' arrest gave them some sort of a relief as the rumors about the pastor's financial misconduct have been circulating for years. He also revealed that his own family had put in thousands of dollars into MEMG.

MEMG's chief operating officer Grenetta Wells, 56, had pleaded guilty to conspiring with the Millenders in their fraudulent transactions. She will be sentenced on Jan. 12, while the couple will be sentenced on March 30.