Michael Winans, Jr To Plead Guilty To Ponzi Scheme

(By David Ashenfelter Detroit Free Press Staff)

A member of the famed Winans gospel singing family has been charged in federal court with operating an $8-million Ponzi scheme that promised investors huge returns for investing in a phony Saudi Arabian crude oil bonds.

Michael Winans Jr. was charged Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit with wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. He is accused of defrauding more than 1,000 investors of $1,000 to $7,000 each between October 2007 through September 2008.

Winans’ lawyer, William Hatchett of Pontiac, said Winans plans to plead guilty within the next 10 days and that he fully intends to repay investors.

“He wants to bring this to a speedy and just conclusion,” Hatchett said, adding that Winans wants to make sure everyone knows that other family members weren’t involved in the scheme.

The Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation issued a cease and desist order against Winans in 2010, saying he used his connections to Detroit churches to lure investors into the scheme.

Winans is a third-generation member of one of gospel music’s most famous families. He is the grandson of Delores (Mom) Winans and David (Pop) Winans Sr., and son of Michael Winans Sr., a member of The Winans, a quartet of brothers.

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