Michael Winans Jr., grandson of Delores "Mom" Winans and David "Pop" Winans Sr. of the famous gospel family, was sentenced yesterday (Feb 27) to approximately 14 years in prison for an investor fraud scheme that scammed $8 million from people out of their life savings, the financial extortion pitched to church-goers from pulpits.
The scam consisted of a scheme to sell Saudi Arabian oil bonds, which ended up being illegitimate, but he continued to collect money after he learned they were fake. In the process, victims were robbed of their life savings that financially and emotionally broke families.
In 2007 and 2008, Winans courted over 1,000 investors and promised 100 percent in returns. Six hundred of those investors are still owed $4.7 million, money that Winans used for personal costs of living and the payback of previous investors.
During the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Sean Cox read the letters of victims, one mentioned that a young woman had to join the Army because her family had lost money that was intended for her college education.
"I want to apologize to everyone. … These were decisions that were negligent and irresponsible," said Winans, 30, in federal court. "I caused financial and emotional damage. For that I repent,” he told the judge.
The famous Winans sibling performed with his cousins as part of the group Winans Phase II, and released a solo album in 2011 called My Own Genre.