Winans Jr. Sentenced

The Winans family’s Michael Winans Jr. has been sentenced to almost 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud in an $8 million Ponzi scheme.

Detroit Federal Judge Sean Cox also ordered the gospel scion to pay $4.8 million in restitution for the scam, during which he promised large returns for investing in phony Saudi Arabian oil bonds, then recycled the funds among investors and kept some for personal use.

Winans took advantage of “good, decent, church-going people,” Cox said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “That is very, very troubling to me. … You used churches to perpetuate this fraud.”

While addressing the court, Winans acknowledged he’d made mistakes and caused “financial and emotional damage,” but said there was no “malicious intent on my part. … I wanted people to have a good life,” the paper reported.

His scheme began in 2007 and by 2010, the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation had issued a cease-and-desist order against him.