ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Alexandria pastor and his wife were arrested on Sunday for their alleged involvement in a $1.2 million fraud scheme that victimized members of their congregation.
Terry Wayne Millender, 52, the senior pastor of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria, along with his wife, Brenda, 56, and Grenetta Wells, 55, who is affiliated with the church, were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.
The charges were released Monday after Wells was arrested. The Millenders and Wells 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 to start or expand existing businesses by working with a network of established micro-finance institutions, according to a press release.
Terry and Brenda Millender were founding members of MEMG, and Wells served as chief operating officer. They recruited investors by emphasizing its Christian mission and use of the funds to help the poor, promising guaranteed rates of return, assuring investors that the loans’ principal was safe and backed by the assets of MEMG, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The indictment claims some investors gave the Millenders sums totaling $40,000, $50,000, $84,000 and $400,000.
The money was allegedly used by the trio to conduct risky trading on the foreign exchange currency market, options trading, payments toward the purchase of a $1.75 million residence for the Millenders and other personal expenses for the defendants, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In an effort to conceal how they had actually used the money, the defendants allegedly assured investors that they would get their money back and blamed delays in repaying investors on the 2008 financial crisis.
FOX 5 spoke to a former member of Millender’s church who said there have been rumors for years about financial misconduct.
“It didn’t really come as a shock – it was more of a sigh of relief,” Eric Brown said of the arrests.
Brown said his own family invested thousands of dollars into their pastor’s “business.” But they are not part of the federal case.
“I asked him like, ‘Hey, that’s a nice car,'” Brown recalled. “He said, ‘Yeah, $100,000 car. If you save up your money, God’s going to bless you.’ Come to find out now, it was actually part of our money.”
So this is an older story. October 2016 to be exact. BUT the thought of this story reminded me of a time when I was a churchgoer. I remember this Pastor in Florida. He was charismatic but not so much where he shoved it down your throat, but he hid behind the Non Denominational background. Basically that’s where a church accepts people of all faiths. Example; Apostolic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Episcopalian etc. And those folks who believe in the same god all worship under the same roof. Great idea and it makes you feel welcomed.
Well I recall in 1998-2004 or so, this guy was planning to build a church that was going to be huge. Our congregation was meeting at a decent sized church that could hold 500 members. Not bad. But he said that God spoke to him and told him that he was to build a bigger church and that God was calling his ministry in a Nationwide direction. We were all excited for him and the fact that we would be a part of this vision. Every week everyone who could donated money to this building fund. Oh we gave our hearts out. Weekly, biweekly whatever. He said he needed to raise $500,000 for the project. We were psyched about helping our church grow to a bigger outreach to assist needy families. Well year after year there was NO church or sign of a church. He had a building model or printout of what the church would look like. It stood in the center of the church as a reminder of what was to come. We all wanted to see this new building.
Well lo and behold, he informed us that he’d bought the land. We were overjoyed to hear that. I was always NOSEY. Like all up In people’s business. I can’t help it. I’m not a busybody, just nosey. So as time progresses we continue our faithfulness but I’m getting a little weary in well doing. I’m literally about to faint. Especially when I see the pastor growing but I’m getting poorer. I have no savings because I’m giving it all to the kingdom. So I decided to do a records search on my pastor. Turns out he DID buy the land for a Penny. But that’s not the only thing he purchased. He bought a home for $500,000. Hmmm that’s strange. Yep that’s right. He used the money we gave to upgrade his living standards. Most of the congregation was poor. Living paycheck to paycheck. He was a con artist. Another time he came up with the phone card scam. Now at the time I was aware of pyramid schemes. And yes they tried to get my husband and I in on it. But we refrained. In a nutshell I left this church and never looked back. He has since downgraded to a smaller church in a different community still in the ghetto and now he’s robbing these folks.
I’d love to blame it on black pastors but I just can’t. There’s con artists in every race and denomination. The Catholic Church being the biggest.
I’m Atheist and I really don’t care what you believe. It’s really not my business if you’re trying to avoid hell. My problem is when I see folks In these churches giving out of necessity. If you are struggling, the church should be there to help you. Not the other way around. If churches ACTUALLY did their part, we wouldn’t need welfare programs. But these pastors are money hungry thugs who carry Bibles and capitalize off of your fear of eternal damnation. Every person who gives to a church should know exactly what cause they are giving to.
Church attendance is declining because of stories like this. When I was a kid, my pastor lived very modestly. He worked at his local post office. He drove a station wagon. No he didn’t Have a Mercedes at home. The wagon was his car. His wife and he were good people. They tried to do a lot for the children there. We had a good church environment. But today’s shit is just shit. I wouldn’t step foot in a church to save my life.
If you insist on being religious, don’t be a fool. There’s nothing like being TAKEN by your own pastor. Use some common sense. If you’re broke, don’t give shit! These pastors sell the same story week after week. How many times can you hear the same EASTER, CHRISTMAS, story in your lifetime? Like you’re 60 and been going to church since you were a kid. But why? You could practically teach the sermon. And you’re still donating to the building fund?
What’s wrong with worshipping your god at home? What’s wrong with believing in a god on your own terms? Why do they have to make you feel guilty for not attending church? Because they know that church attendance equals a larger collection when that plate or bucket gets passed around. Churches are organizations. They are ran like businesses and they pay no taxes for the most part. Why would I give to them? If I want to help, I help who I see face to face. If I see a homeless guy or a person struggling, I help them. I don’t give to an organization and hope for the best. My thoughts are that you are supposed to help those in your vicinity. Many people have family who they refuse to help financially for some dumb reason, but they will give eagerly to their pastor who is collecting thousands a month for a couple days work. But fall on hard times and ask that same pastor for help and see what happens. RARELY do they help their members.
I ran into another pastor who I was a regular attendee at his church. He’s an older guy, he had a very nice black Cadillac. The best car I saw in the parking lot. Of course he didn’t recognize me. I just sat back and watched him. He had a custom tag on his car. Making sure that everyone knew he was a child of God and blessed.
When you have pastors living like professional athletes we have a problem. But what we forget is that Pastors are entertainers. We literally pay them to entertain us.
But when they con us out of our money for a sham business where they know that you will never make a profit and you will lose your hard-earned money, that’s a slap in the face.
This couple is so guilty. And there are a lot of genuine Christians out there who believe in them and this is how they repay you for your contributions? No wonder so many are leaving organized religion. If I were still religious, which I remained that way for years after I discovered we had been HAD. But if I were today, I’d stay away from the house of God and teach my children about love at home. I’d teach them to volunteer and give back to the community. To me, that’s the best way to teach children if you insist on living by religious principles.
If you wanna believe in God, who cares? But don’t be stupid.
More people need to come forth with information about these shady criminals in suits. If more folks started reporting these crimes, then that’ll teach them that all of their members aren’t lost sheep.
Note from another pastor requesting money. Bishop I.V. Hilliard and his letter.
“Our Aviation Department has an opportunity that will save the ministry well over $50K if we will move on it right away. My Aviation Manager stated that while repairing our helicopter they discovered that if we upgrade our blades today, it will save thousands in the days to come,” he explained.
Then while pointing to various biblical scriptures, Hilliard noted: “We have an urgent transportation need that the Lord said can be an opportunity for you to see His favor and His wisdom released to help you.”
“Scripture teaches when you give to a Kingdom need, God will raise up someone to use their power, their ability and their influence to help you,” he added.
“As I pondered and looked at the situation, I heard that still small voice of the Holy Spirit say ‘tell your special partners who have special transportation needs’ and their obedience will release favor for their needs and desires. I got excited and set down to write you!” noted Hilliard.
“I believe with all my heart this message is for you and your doing something today is the key to releasing this favor on your transportation situation! Send me the transportation need or dream you have by completing the online petition when you sow a $52.00 transportation favor seed believing in 52 days or 52 weeks you will experience breakthrough favor!” he added.
Wow, then here’s the fine print. Lol. Notice it’s the AMPLIFIED Bible.
$$There are no bogus claims, prophecies or guarantees promising the donor will receive their dream mode of transportation in 52 days or 52 weeks. The donor is encouraged to use their faith as the Scripture teaches to expect to receive the blessing of favor as a result of their giving.”
And he quoted several Biblical scriptures such as Luke 6:38 (Amplified Bible) to defend his theology.
“Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you,” he noted.
Bishop Hilliard also noted that the church has operated its Aviation Department for the last eighteen years and they will continue to do so.$$
“New Light Church continues to use the helicopter as a ministry tool to service the needs of its six locations. The Church has owned and operated an Aviation Department since 1995 under the guidance and approval of the Board of Directors of the Church. The Church will continue with its mission of touching lives and impacting communities in an integral manner as it has done for the past twenty-nine (29) years,” he said.
So basically you don’t need my lil $52.00 These pimps crack me up.