On Wednesday, Michael Winans Jr., 30, was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison by a federal judge in Detroit on wire fraud charges saying he stole millions from more than 1,200 investors. Many would call this an elaborate ponzi scheme. U.S. District Judge Sean Cox also ordered Winans to pay $4.8 million in restitution to his victims. Assistant U.S. Attorney Abed Hammoud was quoted saying that Winans was a Grammy nominee who "used religion ... the church, the good reputation of the family" to rob victims, many of whom are metro Detroiters.
In October, Winans plead guilty that he devised a wire fraud scheme in Michigan. Yesterday, Winans, dressed in a gray suit, admitted that "I did make mistakes" also that he caused "financial and emotional damage" to people and their lively hood. He did go on to say that there was no "malicious intent on my part... I wanted people to have a good life."
The sentencing memo of Hammoud said Winans led "investors... to believe they were investing in Saudi Arabian crude oil bonds that (he) well knew did not exist. Winans... guaranteed the victim investors the bonds would yield returns of approximately 100% of the principal within 60 days."
Michael Winans Jr. is the nephew of Marvin Winans, the pastor of Perfecting Church in Detroit, who is known nationally for his gospel music. Marvin Winans spoke at Whitney Houston's funeral last year. He attended the court sentencing but did not give any comment.