DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A judge won’t extend the deadline for Michael Winans Jr. to report to federal prison for financial fraud.
Winans, a member of the well-known Detroit gospel music family, is due to start a nearly 14-year prison term on May 9, but he wants 60 days to clear up what he considers to be “major errors” in the case.
Detroit federal Judge Sean Cox on Thursday wasn’t buying it though, and declined Winans’ request.
In a court filing, Winans says he should be held responsible for $1.2 million in losses, not $8 million. He blames his former attorney for wrong calculations, saying some money paid to investors was kept by “middlemen.”
Winans pleaded guilty to selling bogus Saudi Arabian oil bonds. In February, prosecutors said about 600 people still were owed more than $4 million.
Here’s how investigators said the scheme worked: Winans represented the Winans Trust as a company investing in crude oil bonds in Saudi Arabia. Winans initially recruited 11 people, whom he called “shareholders” in the Trust, to invest in the crude oil bonds. Winans required the “shareholders” to solicit additional investors and send the investors’ funds to the Trust.
Over 1,000 victim investors from several states sent over $8 million to the Trust. All of these victims were led to believe they were investing in Saudi Arabian crude oil bonds that Winans well knew did not exist. Winans guaranteed the victim investors that the bonds would yield returns of $1,000 to $8,000 within 60 days.
“In reality, Winans converted some of the victim investors’ money to his own personal use while giving some of his later victims’ money to his earlier victims, and falsely represented to them that it was the return on their “investments” he had promised,” investigators said in a press release.
The sentencing memo from Assistant U.S. Attorney Abed Hammoud includes comments from people who gave Winans money or collected it for him. They referred to him as a “silver-tongue con man,” who solicited money from church pulpits and used his last name to enhance his credibility.
Winans “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,” Hammoud said. “He also used religion to convince people to trust and invest with him. This translated into over $8 million obtained by fraud from so-called investors, which financially ruined many of them.”
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of the Winans Foundation Trust should provide their name, address, phone number and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-702-0553.
Winans is a third-generation member of one of gospel music’s first families. His uncle, Marvin Winans, gave the eulogy at Whitney Houston’s funeral.
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