Jessup man pleads guilty to $8 million ponzi scheme

A Jessup resident and member of the renowned Winans gospel music family pleaded guilty in federal court in Detroit on Wednesday to defrauding investors out of approximately $8 million dollars, according to a U.S. Attorney's news release.

Michael Winans Jr., 30, of Jessup, will be sentenced on Feb. 27, and could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

According to the release, Winans was identified as the operator of the Winans Foundation Trust, which falsely represented itself as a company investing in crude oil bonds in Saudi Arabia.

Winans recruited 11 other individuals to invest the crude oil bonds, and ordered these individuals to solicit outside investments, according to the release.

Winans guaranteed investors from $1,000 to $8,000 in returns on their investments in 60 days, but instead pocketed the money for personal use.

Over 1,000 investors from several states sent over $8 million to the trust, the release stated.

Winans 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 son of Michael Winans, a member of the renowned gospel music group "The Winans."

"Investor fraud schemes like this one are just a fancy way to steal other people's money," Eastern Michigan U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said. "Anyone who robs citizens of their hard-earned savings will be brought to justice."

This case was a joint investigation with the FBI, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

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