Winans sentenced: Gospel singer Michael Winans Jr. was sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison for a $8 million Ponzi scheme.
Pop and gospel singer Michael Winans Jr. was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme that bilked its victims out of $8 million in all.
Winans, convicted of stealing from more than 1,200 investors, was sentenced at a Detroit hearing on Wednesday, reported the Detroit Free Press. The judge and prosecution slammed Winans for using the Christian religion and the Winans family reputation to help foster the scheme.
Winans was ordered to pay $4.8 million to his victims, Judge Sean Cox ruled. He described the people he stole from as “good, decent, church-going people.”
“That is very, very troubling to me…You used…churches to perpetuate this fraud,” he added.
Cox said the scheme caused far more problems than just financial ones.
“This didn’t just impact people’s pockets,” Cox said, according to the Detroit News. “Families broke up. The defendant would have people recruit other people for him. When this came out as a fraud, (investors) were not only upset with the defendant; they became upset with the people they gave money to.”
Two victims of Winans told the judge that some people were defrauded of their life savings in the Ponzi scheme, which involved Saudi oil bonds.
“I want to apologize to everyone. … These were decisions that were negligent and irresponsible,” said Winans, reported The Associated Press. He said there was no “malicious intent” involved, but acknowledged that he kept collecting money even though he knew the oil bonds were fake.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Abed Hammoud said, “He used religion. He used the church, the good reputation of the family” in his scheme. Hammoud added that there might be more victims of the Ponzi scheme, according to the Free Press.
Winans is the grandson of Delores “Mom” Winans and David “Pop” Winans Sr. He is the son of Michael Winans Sr., a member of The Winans quartet.
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