Winans scion gets nearly 14 years in prison
- Photo: Michael Winans Jr./Promotional1 of 3
- Photo: FayesVision/WENN2 of 3
More Celeb News
- R. Kelly Performs Song He Wrote for Nelson Mandela on 'Arsenio' (Video)MSNEntertainment 12/6/2013 5:09:35 PM
- 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' Review: Peter Jackson's Second VersMSNEntertainment 12/6/2013 5:03:45 PM
- Fox Sports 1 Scores Best Ratings Week Since August LaunchMSNEntertainment 12/6/2013 4:44:04 PM
- New York Post Settles Racial and Sexual Discrimination LawsuitMSNEntertainment 12/6/2013 4:30:51 PM
- 'American Hustle' Cast To Be Honored by Palm Springs FestMSNEntertainment 12/6/2013 4:20:58 PM
- R. Kelly Performs Song He Wrote for Nelson Mandela on 'Arsenio' (Video)
DETROIT (AP) -- A judge sentenced a member of gospel music's Winans family to nearly 14 years in prison Wednesday for an $8 million financial scam that was promoted in church pulpits.
RELATED: Christina Aguilera's worst looks
Two of Michael Winans Jr.'s victims spoke in federal court, telling a judge that the scheme to sell Saudi Arabian oil bonds robbed some people of their life savings, caused divorces and fractured many families.
"I want to apologize to everyone. ... These were decisions that were negligent and irresponsible," said Winans, of Jessup, Md.
He said he had no "malicious intent" but acknowledged that he continued to collect money even after he learned that the bonds were bogus.
Winans attracted more than 1,000 investors in 2007 and 2008, although he didn't know them all because many were recruited by others through word of mouth. He promised 100 percent returns in two months, then used the money for personal expenses or to pay off earlier investors. About 600 people are still owed $4.7 million in total.
Winans, 30, is a third-generation member of one of gospel music's first families. He's the grandson of Delores "Mom" Winans and David "Pop" Winans Sr., and the son of Michael Winans Sr., a member of the Winans, a quartet of brothers. His uncle, Marvin Winans, gave the eulogy at Whitney Houston's funeral.
RELATED: Stars who are aging in reverse
Winans has performed with his cousins as "Winans Phase II." He released his own album in 2011, "My Own Genre."
Winans relied on unwitting friends to round up investors, a trait of a classic Ponzi scheme. When the bonds turned out to bogus, investors angrily turned on the people who recruited them.
"There are lots of marriages that have been destroyed. I know family members who aren't speaking to each other," Tara Hurt told the judge. The Detroit-area resident declined further comment outside court.
U.S. District Judge Sean Cox read from some of the 50 letters written by victims. He said a young woman joined the Army because her family had lost money that was intended for her college education. He noted that Winans made his pitch from church pulpits.
"Fraud on good, decent church-going people — that was very, very troubling to me," Cox said.
RELATED: Best TMI tweets
Carrie Underwood tweets about her "Sound of Music" experience on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
Katy Perry, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Lady Gaga all get an F on this week's Fashion OffendersWatch Video »
Girls Night Out
Take a look back at Prince William and Duchess Kate's cutest couple moments.Watch Video »
From Jenny and Donnie to Amanda and Justin, see more celebs who found new love in 2013.Watch Video »
Like us on Facebook?
UP NEXTFashion Offenders
From Videos of Wonderwall
From Crowd Ignite