How can you call yourself a man or woman of God, but steal from your flock?
This is the question a Virginia jury recently had to grapple with when they found a popular pastor and his wife guilty of swindling millions of dollars from their friends and members of their congregation.
According to the Washington Post, Terry Millender and his wife Brenda Millender, who together ran Victorious Life Church, told people they could benefit financially and spiritually if they invested in his Christian-based company lending small amounts of money to entrepreneurs in developing countries. They also told folks that they would be making a profit, which sadly never happened.
Now were they actually investing money? Yes and no.
See, folks gave the couple sums ranging from $40,000 to $4 million and they took some of that money and engaged in really risky currency trading that made their first company fail. But then they got more money and lured in more people using a Nigerian oil scheme, later using a large portion of those funds to make payments on their $1.75 million dollar home and splurge on personal items, prosecutors said.
During court, Pastor Millender said his actions weren’t fraud, instead, they were a mismanagement of everyone’s money.
He said he acted “stupidly, not criminally — not from my heart.”
But if one company failed and you couldn’t get their money back, why start another one, asking even more friends for money that then fails too? And why use their investments to pay for your luxurious home?
Grenetta Wells, who was chief operating officer of their microlending company, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and also testified against the Millenders. Meanwhile, Pastor Millender was found guilty for all 31 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, false-tax-return filing and obstruction, while his wife was found guilty for only seven.
Their sentencing trial will be held next March and they both face up to 20 years in federal prison for their crimes.
BEAUTIES: We know that tithing is one thing, but would you invest this much money in private company your pastor had created?