Michael Winans, son of famed gospel quartet member Michael Winans Sr. of The Winans, was sentenced in a federal courtroom to 14 years in prison on Wednesday, February 27 for his role in a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. Prosecutors recommended Winans be sentenced to at least 12 1/2 years; Judge Sean Cox exceeded that time when handing down Winans' sentence. The defendant was also ordered to pay nearly $4.8 million in restitution to more than 1,000 victims along with a fine of $175,000.
News reports state that Winans will spend time in federal prison after it was found that he was defrauding investors while operating an $8 million Ponzi scheme through the Winans Foundation Trust. Winans pleaded guilty of the offense in October of 2012. While he lives in Jessup, Md, Winans allegedly had recruited 11 investors in the beginning days of the Ponzi scheme, those investors eventually recruiting hundreds more across many states. Ultimately, more than $8 million was collected from investors, who were led to believe they were investing in crude oil bonds in Saudi Arabia.
According to The Detroit News, Winans took money from investors during the time period from 2007 and 2008, although he was aware that the bonds were not legitimate. The defendant promised a two-month turn around on their investments, saying they would get 100% of it back in that time frame; however, Winans was allegedly using that money to pay off initial investors and for his own personal use.
Winans told the judge, "There was zero malicious intent on my part. This investment was presented as a good thing to me, and I wanted people to have a better life." Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy stated that Michael Winans will be spending his time in federal prison, and that the "many" victims of his scheme can rest easier with the knowledge that he has been convicted.
Michigan fraud defense lawyers understand the serious criminal penalties individuals face when convicted on charges related to money laundering, including Ponzi schemes. Even in this case, the defendant is 30 years old; he will likely be middle age by the time he is released from prison - and the monetary fines are tremendous.
Individuals who are accused of embezzlement, money laundering, Ponzi schemes or other non-violent offenses must consult with a capable Michigan criminal defense attorney at once, who will work diligently to protect you from severe criminal penalties.