By Missy Schrott | [email protected]
An Alexandria pastor was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday for a $2 million fraud scheme that victimized members of his congregation, clergymen and other investors, according to a Department of Justice news release.
Terry Wayne Millender, 54, former senior pastor of Victorious Life Church, was arrested in 2016. He had founded an organization called Micro-Enterprise Management Group that he said helped poor people in developing countries by providing small loans to businesses by working with a network of established micro-finance institutions, according to court documents and trial testimony.
Millender emphasized MEMG’s Christian mission and use of funds to lure investors, many of whom invested their retirement funds in a shell company called Equity Trust that they were falsely led to believe was a third-party entity. Millender used their money to conduct risky trading on the foreign exchange currency market and options trading. He then used the profits on personal expenses including payments on a $1.75 million residence and lavish furniture for the house.
After MEMG failed, Millender created another entity called Kingdom Commodities Unlimited, which he said specialized in the brokering of Nigerian oil deals. The victims in that scheme gave more than $450,000 to KCU, which Millender used to pay for rent, golf trips, a birthday party and other personal expenses.
“Millender preyed upon the religious beliefs and charitable desires of more than two dozen victims and has demonstrated little to no remorse for his actions,” G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement. “His rampant fraud scheme has exacted a heavy emotional, spiritual and financial toll on his victims, and today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of his crime.”