Alexandria, Virginia, pastors Terry and Brenda Millender, who ran the Victorious Life Church, claimed that their parishioners could earn profits if they invested in small businesses overseas. But it turns out the two defrauded the church and their friends out of millions of dollars.
In front of a jury in Alexandria, Terry Millender did not see it that way. He said that he and his wife were accused of financial mismanagement, not defrauding.
The plan, initially, started in 2008 when the couple convinced church members that they could get rich helping others. According to The Washington Post, the couple had no experience in microlending. They also weren't upfront about how they planned to earn profits, failing to tell the investors they would generate profits from risky currency trading.
Instead of using the funds for business loans, they took the cash and used it to make payments on a $1.75 million home in Springfield, Virginia.“I’m pleased that the jury’s verdict at least acknowledges a vast difference between Mr. and Mrs. Millender’s respective involvement,” Brenda Millender’s lawyer, Lana Manitta, said. “However, our position is and will remain that Brenda Millender wasn’t involved at any level that triggers criminal culpability.”
Prosecutors also made the case that the couple tried to recover by investing in the Nigerian oil industry. The Millenders said the investors would earn their money back with this new venture, but it turns out the Millenders lost $600,000 and used the remaining funds for rent and golfing.
“You can’t do good and be poor at the same time,” Terry Millender testified. “You can’t help the poor and be poor; it makes no sense.”
Terry Millender was found guilty of all 31 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, false-tax-return filing and obstruction. But his wife was found guilty only for seven counts.
The two will face sentencing in March, and they can both receive upwards of 20 years for their actions.