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Grammy Award Winning Gospel Singer Michael Winans Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison


Michael Winans Jr., a member of a well known gospel music family and a onetime Grammy nominee, was sentenced Wednesday to 13 years and 9 months in prison for defrauding more than 1,200 investors in an $8 million dollar pyramid scheme. He was also ordered to pay his victims $4.8 million in restitution.

Winans was blasted by the judge, Sean Cox, and federal prosecutor, Abed Hammoud, for using his family’s name and his Christian faith to ruin the lives of numerous churchgoers in a financial scam.

Judge Cox said that Winans took advantage of “good, decent, church-going people.” He went on to say, “That is very, very troubling to me…You used…churches to perpetuate this fraud.”

Hammoud, Assistant U.S. Attorney, said of Winans: “He used religion. He used the church, the good reputation of the family,” to rob victims. He went on to add in the sentencing memo that Winans led “investors…to believe they were investing in Saudi Arabian crude oil bonds that he well knew did not exist.”

Winans pled guilty in October to wire fraud. Prosecutors said in court filings that “he clearly abused the fact that he came from a very well known family with a good reputation in order to induce people to invest with him.”

In his address to the court, Winans acknowledged that “I did make mistakes.” I caused “financial and emotional damage. For that I repent,” Winans told the judge.

Winans is the grandson of David (Pop) Winans Sr. and the nephew of Marvin Winans, the pastor of Perfecting Church in Detroit who is known nationally for his gospel music. Marvin Winans, who gave the eulogy last year at Whitney Houston’s funeral, was in the courtroom today. He did not comment.

At the sentencing, there were also several victims of the pyramid scheme, some of whom cried. In many cases, people fooled by Winans convinced loved ones to give money. Some lost their homes, their college tuition money, and the trust of ones close to them.

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