Michael Winans, Jr. Sentenced to 14 Years in Jail for $8 Million Ponzi Scheme
Michael Winans, Jr., of the gospel industry's legendary Winans family, was sentenced to 14 years in jail on Wednesday for his role in perpetuating a Ponzi scheme that duped individuals out of more than $8 million.
Sadly, Winans sought his victims in churches, taking to pulpits to promise better days and prosperous futures via his plan to invest in Saudi Arabian crude oil bonds.
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"Fraud on good, decent church-going people - that was very, very troubling to me," said U.S. District Judge Sean Cox in the Detroit, Mich., federal courtroom where the sentence was handed down.
From October 2007 through September 2008, Winans collected the $8 million from more than 1,000 investors he cultivated through his numerous connections with various churches in Michigan. Winans is said to have promised 100% returns to the investors who entrusted an average of $1,000 to $7,000 to him.
But instead of investing the money, federal investigators say Winans used the millions to pay for his personal expenses and to bide his time with previous investors.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Winans admitted to causing "financial and emotional damage," for which he repented. He also added that there was no "malicious intent on my part...I wanted people to have a good life."
Winans was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in federal prison and ordered to make restitution. According to The Associated Press, about 600 people are waiting for a total of $4.8 million to be repaid.
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