Winans sentenced: Gospel singer Michael Winans Jr. was slammed by a judge, prosecutor, and victims when he was sentenced for a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of $8 million.
The presiding judge, prosecutors, and victims in the case of Michael Winans Jr., a gospel singer and music producer convicted of running an $8 million Ponzi scheme, blasted him for using the church and his family’s name to defraud hundreds of people.
At his sentencing hearing, Judge Sean Cox gave Winans 165 months, or nearly 14 years, in prison.
“This didn’t just impact people’s pockets,” Cox was quoted by the Detroit News as saying. “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.”
Victim Tara Hurt said that Winans’ scheme forced her marriage to dissolve.
“Myself and my husband have experienced turmoil for the past five years,” Hurt said. “My mother passed away without ever recovering the money she thought would help her. Marriages have been ruined; my marriage was almost ruined as well. Family members aren’t speaking to other family members because of this.”
Calvin Jackson Jr., another victim, said that “many death threats to my life” were issued against him, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I trusted him. I confided a lot in him,” he said.
But he said that ultimately, “I have to forgive him. I feel so bad for him. I feel so bad for us.”
Winans, who is a member of the famed singing family of the same name, defrauded more than 1,200 investors in an $8 million Ponzi scheme.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Abed Hammoud said Winans “used religion” and “the church,” as well as “the good reputation of the family” to steal from his victims, reported the Free Press.
Winans led people “to believe they were investing in Saudi Arabian crude oil bonds that (he) well knew did not exist,” Hammoud said.
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