Michael Winans Jr., a member of the legendary Winans gospel family, has been charged with fraud after authorities uncovered a scam involving more than $8 million and bogus oil bonds.
Winans Jr. is planning to plead guilty to the charges, according to his defense attorney William Hatchett.
The Detroit-bred singer was first accused of the crime in March 2010 by the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation, who revealed that their 14-month investigation uncovered he was the ringleader in the crude oil bond scam.
According to the filings in the Detroit Federal Court, Winans Jr. apparently knew the Saudi Arabian oil bonds did not exist, but he continued to receive money from more than 1,000 investors in 2007 and 2008.
In typical Ponzi fashion, he recycled the money among investors and also took cash for his own personal use.
Winans Jr. targeted parishioners of Detroit area churches to become investors in his scheme. One ministry in particular was the Genesis New Beginnings Church.
The singer now plans to reimburse the victims of his fraud.
“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,” his attorney Hatchett said.
Winans Jr. was a member of the contemporary gospel quartet, Winans Phase 2, which included his cousins Marvin Jr., Carvin III and Juan Winans. The group released one CD, ‘We Got Next’ in 1999.
His father, Michael Winans Sr. is a member of the Grammy-winning gospel group The Winans. He also released three duet CDs with his wife Regina Winans.
“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 bright and gifted young man. His family stands beside him and they intend to see him through this.”
The attorney said that Winans Jr. will likely make a court appearance within the next 10 days.