DETROIT, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Detroit has sentenced music producer Michael Winans Jr. to nearly 14 years in prison for his role in an $8 million investment scheme.
Winans, 30, is a member of the famous Winans family of gospel music performers. Convicted on wire fraud charges, he was sentenced Wednesday to 13 years, nine months in prison and ordered to pay $4.8 million in restitution to his victims, The Detroit Free Press reported.
Prosecutors said his scam hurt 1,200 investors by tearing apart their marriages, causing them to lose their homes, destroying their college plans and wiping out their life savings.
Before sentencing Winans, U.S. District Judge Sean Cox admonished him for taking advantage of "good, decent, churchgoing people."
"That is very, very troubling to me. ... You used ... churches to perpetuate this fraud," the Free Press quoted Cox as saying.
"I did make mistakes," Winans admitted at his sentencing, acknowledging he caused "financial and emotional damage."
"For that I repent," Winans told the judge, insisting there was no "malicious intent on my part."
"I wanted people to have a good life," he said.