Source: George Hunter / The Detroit News
Detroit — Victims of Michael Winans’ multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme sobbed in a federal courtroom Wednesday before a judge sentenced the defendant, a member of a prominent gospel music family, to almost 14 years in prison.
Judge Sean Cox’s 165-month sentence exceeded the prosecutors’ recommendation of at least a 12½years. Winans, who must also pay almost $4.8 million in restitution, pleaded guilty in October to of lying to more than 1,000 people who thought they were investing in crude oil bonds.
Winans — son of Michael Winans Sr., a member of the Gospel Hall of Fame Quartet The Winans — knew the bonds weren’t real, but accepted money from the investors in 2007 and 2008.
Under the scheme, Winans promised the victims they’d get 100 percent returns in two months, but used the investors’ money for his personal use or to pay off earlier investors.