Winans Family Member Charged With Ponzi Scheme

DETROIT (AP) – A member of the Winans gospel-music family has been charged with fraud after authorities uncovered a scam involving more than $8 million and bogus oil bonds.

Michael Winans Jr. plans to plead guilty, defense attorney William Hatchett said Thursday.

“My client has told me it is his full intention to repay or somehow put these people back to where they were before they became involved,” Hatchett said.

Winans knew the Saudi Arabian oil bonds weren’t real, but he continued to accept money from more than 1,000 investors in 2007 and 2008, according to a filing this week in Detroit federal court.

He recycled the money among investors, a trait of Ponzi schemes, and also used cash for his personal use, the government said.

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 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.

Michigan regulators in 2010 said Winans Jr. used connections in Detroit churches to lure investors.

“There are no other members of this great family implicated or involved in any fashion,” Hatchett said. “This is a very difficult time for this very bright and gifted young man. His family stands beside him and they intend to see him through this.”

He said Winans likely would make a court appearance within 10 days.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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