Michael Winans Jr., of the legendary gospel family, has been sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison for his involvement in a Ponzi scheme. According to The Detroit News, Michael Winans Jr. pleaded guilty in October to federal charges that he participated in a scam that cheated more than 1,000 investors out of $8 million in crude oil bonds over the span of 30 years.
Michael is the son of Michael Winans Sr., a member of The Winans quartet, and is the nephew of BeBe and CeCe Winans.
According to The Detroit News, Michael Jr. was accused of telling investors, including members of Genesis New Beginnings Church in Detroit, that the Winans Foundation Trust was investing in crude oil bonds in Saudi Arabia. He knew the bonds were fake, but collected money from investors anyway, the newspaper reports.
Michael Jr. then used the cash he received for personal purposes or to pay off earlier investors. The judge who sentenced him has ordered him to pay almost $4.8 million in restitution, according to The Detroit News.
"There was zero malicious intent on my part," Michael Jr. reportedly told the judge. "This investment was presented as a good thing to me, and I wanted people to have a better life."
The judge, however, said that even if Michael Jr. was initially concerned with bettering others' lives, he learned months into his business dealings that the opportunity was a scam. But he collected investments anyway, the judge reportedly said.
Michael Jr. remains free on bond until the court selects a facility for him to serve his jail time.
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