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Member of Winans gospel singing family charged with operating $8M Ponzi scheme
Sep-15-2012 1068 0


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.

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.

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

"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 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.

"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."

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

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Jul-21-2014 100 0
After an 11-year-old girl was shot and killed by a stray bullet while sitting on a friend's bedroom floor, Chicago officials met Monday to discuss the city's recent surge in gun violence.

The girl was just one of 47 shooting victims in Chicago over the weekend, five of which were fatal, according to statistics released by the Chicago Police Department.

Shamiya Adams was brought to a nearby hospital in critical condition on Friday and pronounced dead Saturday morning, according to Anthony Brucci, a spokesman for Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

She was visiting a friend when a stray bullet from outside the residence struck her, according to Chicago Police Officer Jose Estrada.

No other injuries were reported at that incident, and no one has been arrested or charged, Estrada said. An investigation is ongoing.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel met Monday with the Chicago Police superintendent and community leaders to discuss violence in their city, an event scheduled before the uptick in gun violence over the weekend.

"Our kids only get heard when there is a shot, be it a basketball shot or a bullet shot. There are other kids out there," Emanuel said at the meeting.

"Everybody says, 'So what are you going to do?' As if there's a single thing that's going to resolve this problem," Emanuel said. "It is a communitywide problem, which requires a communitywide solution."

Emanuel went on to say that public safety in Chicago goes beyond police and into investments in after-school and summer job programs, gun law enforcement and penalties and community building.

The violent weekend in Chicago follows a deadly Independence Day weekend when more than 60 people were shot and nine were killed, according to police statistics.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy blamed weak gun laws for the spurt of holiday violence.

"There has to come a tipping point where this changes," McCarthy said then of the violence. "The illogical nature of what's happening here -- that government can intercede and prevent this from happening is overwhelming. And I refuse to think otherwise in a great country like America that we can continue to allow this to happen -- not just on a state, but on a federal level."

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Lee Moran Jul-21-2014 118 0
A North Carolina mom-of-five used Craigslist to try and find a home for her kids saw them taken away and put in foster care.

Moshimalee Johnson, 32, took to Craigslist and pleaded for someone to take her kids in after the Durham Department of Social Services refused to help her earlier this month.

"I am currently homeless and looking for someone to take my five kids until I can find a job and a place to live," she wrote in the apartments wanted section of the site.

"I called DSS, and they won't take them," she said in the July 9 posting. "The shelter has a waiting list and Urban Ministries won't let you work if you come there. I am a certified nursing assistant but can't find work due to numerous doctor's appointments because my 6-year-old accidentally hung himself. Please help anyone."


Johnson, who is 8 months pregnant, says that following the posting she had the children — aged 9, 7, 6 and twins who are 2 — taken away and placed into foster care.

Speaking to the News & Observer Wednesday, however, she claims she didn't want to lose her children — rather, she wanted to find a place for them all to live together.

"Maybe I didn't make myself clear. I didn't want to give the kids up. I wanted a place for me and my kids," she said.

Durham County Social Services Director Michael Becketts would not confirm whether the kid were taken away due to the posting.

"You are assuming DSS was aware of the posting. If we don't see it, we don't know it," he told the News & Observer.

Johnson, who lost her health care agency job in 2013 after her minivan broke down and she was late to work too many times because of the bus, was evicted from her apartment and moved her family in with her mom soon after.

She hopes to be reunited with her children once she has a job and a stable home.


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David Harding Jul-21-2014 155 0
A 62-year-old woman, Helen Shabangu, in South Africa has married a 9-year-old boy, Saneie Masilela.

To make matters even weirder, the newly married couple were watched by the bride's long-term husband, Alfred Shabangu, 66.

The couple have five children.

The ceremony took place in Ximhungwe, northeastern South Africa.

The Shabangus claim the wedding took place after they were told by dead ancestors to go ahead with the ceremony.

"My kids and I are happy because we don't have a problem with her marrying the boy — and I don't care what other people say," she said.

The young groom said he also wanted another wedding when he is older.

"I'm happy that I married Helen but I will go to school and study hard," he said, according to The Mirror.

"I'm very happy that the boy chose me and my family support and understand that it is part of making ancestors happy," the 62-year-old bride said.


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Jul-20-2014 151 0
The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco company was whacked with a staggering $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit brought by the widow of a chain smoker killed by lung cancer in 1996.

A Pensacola jury also awarded Cynthia Robinson another $16.8 million in compensatory damages Friday, following a four-week trial that left a top Reynolds executive burning mad.

“This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented,” said company vice president and assistant general counsel J. Jeffrey Raborn.

He vowed to appeal the “runaway verdict” that Robinson’s legal team said was the largest wrongful death payout for a single plaintiff in Florida history.

The company's vice president and assistant general counsel J. Jeffrey Raborn vowed to appeal the verdict, stating that it goes 'far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness.'

“The jury wanted to send a statement that tobacco cannot continue to lie to the American people and the American government about the addictiveness of and the deadly chemicals in their cigarettes,” said Christopher Chestnut, one of Robinson’s lawyers.

Co-counsel Willie Gary said the lawsuit’s goal was to stop tobacco companies — including Reynolds, the nation’s second largest — from targeting young consumers with their ads.

“If we don’t get a dime, that’s OK, if we can make a difference and save some lives,” he said.

Robinson, of Pensacola, sued in 2008 on behalf of her husband, Michael Johnson Sr., who died at 36. He started smoking at 13, and the couple married six years before his death. The hotel shuttle bus driver smoked up to three packs a day for two decades — and he went to his grave with a cigarette in his mouth.

“He couldn’t quit,” Cynthia Robinson told Reuters. “He was smoking the day he died.”

The massive jury award was the highest of any individual case brought since a Florida court overturned a $145 billion class action verdict for smokers in 2006.

The ruling stemmed from a trial that ended six years earlier with the jury finding Big Tobacco was negligent, sold defective products and conspired to hide details about health risks. As part of its decision, though, the court ruled smokers and their families filing individual suits would only need to prove addiction and a link between smoking and their deaths.

Gary predicted the stunning payout will stand: “I hope and suspect that we will keep the verdict. The jury sent a message.”

Robinson, of Pensacola, sued in 2008 on behalf of her husband, Michael Johnson Sr., who died at 36.

Reynolds has some legal precedent in its appeal of the jury verdict: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that punitive damages should generally not exceed more than nine times the compensatory figure.

The jury deliberated for 11 hours before returning the compensatory payout of $7.3 million to Robinson and $9.6 million to the couple’s son.

Seven hours later, they returned with the multibillion-dollar punitive award.

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Barry Paddock Jul-19-2014 152 0
The rule couldn’t be clearer.

“Members of the NYPD will NOT use chokeholds,” the NYPD patrol guide clearly states. “A chokehold shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe which may prevent or hinder breathing to reduce intakes of air.”

After several people were asphyxiated while in police custody, the NYPD forbade the use of chokeholds in 1983, stating it could only be used when an officer’s life was in danger.

Former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly banned the use of chokeholds all together in 1993.

About a year later, on Dec. 22, 1994, Bronx resident Anthony Baez died after Police Officer Francis Livoti put him in a chokehold after a football he was throwing around with friends hit the cop’s car.

Livoti was acquitted of negligent homicide, sparking protests across the city. He was fired in 2007. A year later he was convicted in federal court of violating Baez's civil rights and served seven years.

On Friday, Police Commissioner Bratton said the NYPD would issue a reminder that chokeholds are prohibited and would retrain officers if necessary.

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Jul-19-2014 160 0
She watched the shocking footage of her husband being subdued by Staten Island cops for the first time on Friday — unable to stomach it the night before.

Esaw Garner watched the video through eyes reddened by tears. It wasn’t any better for the widow in the morning.

“I couldn’t watch the video of my husband being taken down last night,” she said. “I was too upset. I never slept. I watched it this morning and I got even more upset.”

It was clear to her what happened to her husband, Eric Garner, outside a beauty shop in Tompkinsville.

“They killed him,” she said. “They choked him and took him down and I could hear him screaming that he couldn’t breathe. It was so hard to watch. He was a nonviolent gentle giant and they killed him.”

Esaw Garner says late husband Eric had just broken up a fight when cops tried to arrest him.

Pinky, as the widow is affectionately known, sat in a relative’s living room, wearing pink sneakers and a pink top. She stared out at the Manhattan skyline on what would have otherwise been a perfect summer day.

“He has two grandkids who love him to death,” she says of her husband. “Every time he walks into the room they scream ‘Pop-Pop and Ganpa.’ He was great to me and his six kids. And a wonderful grandfather.”

I could hear him screaming that he couldn’t breathe.

She said her husband was 6-foot-5 and weighed over 300 pounds and loved to eat. He could be as loud as she was when they argued.

“But his bark was always bigger than his bite,” she says.

On Thursday morning, Eric gave Pinky $400 and told her to get groceries for the house and then went to his corner of Bay St. and Victory Blvd. where he made his living selling bootleg cigarettes, $7 a pack and 75 cents for loosies. On the street he was known simply as “E.”

At home Pinky called him Bear.

They met on one of those late-night area code 900 party lines that were popular in the 1980s.

“Out of all the guys on the call I liked what he was saying most,” she says, smiling at the memory. “I gave him my private number and asked him to call me. We met the day before he left for school at Ohio Diesel Tech in September 1988. We had a great time together and he said he’d see me after not too long. But I thought I would never see him again.”

But a few days before Christmas that year Pinky’s doorbell rang in the Bronx.

“I ran downstairs and there he was,” she says. “I told him I was pregnant by another man who was no longer in my life.”

When Eric Garner said he’d happily raise the child, he won Pinky’s heart.

“I fell in love with him right then,” she says.

Together they had five more kids. Their oldest boy, Eric Jr., 18, just graduated from Curtis High and got a basketball scholarship to Essex County College.

“We had a wonderful marriage,” she says. “Sure we had our problems. We separated once. But we never stopped loving each other and got back together.”

He had his flaws. Some of them were endearing.

“Was he perfect? No. He ate too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Oreos and cookies at night,” she says. “He snored like a bear but I couldn’t sleep unless I could hear him snoring.”

Pinky said Eric Garner had been arrested several times, once for marijuana and a few times for selling bootleg cigarettes. Which rates right up there in the crime meter with old ladies selling knockoff DVDs and kids selling lemonade without a license.

On Thursday afternoon, Pinky and Eric exchanged texts: At 1:45 p.m. she texted: “You good out there?”

Eric replied, “Yeah, I’m good.”

At 2:47 p.m. she texted “You ok?”

He replied, “I’m good. What’s for dinner?”

“Pork chops, Fat Boy.”

“I’ll be home early.”

Not long after that, a fight broke out between other neighborhood guys on Bay St.

“Bear broke up that fight,” says Pinky. “Not only was he nonviolent, one of the last things he did in his life was stop violence. But then a group of cops arrived. My guess is someone called 911 about the fight. No way did six or eight cops arrive to bust my husband for selling cigarettes. When they arrived the fight was over. The guys involved walked right past the cops. But they recognized my husband and tried to arrest him when he was the peacemaker.”

At 3:15 p.m. Pinky said she was watching People’s Court when her son Eric Jr. asked for $20 to go to W. 4th St. in Greenwich Village to play hoops. Then he said he received a text saying his father was being hassled by cops on Bay St. Pinky figured he was being arrested again. She started getting dressed when she received a flurry of calls and texts saying Eric Garner had been arrested by a group of cops and stopped breathing.

“I rushed to the hospital in a cab at 4:10 p.m.,” she says. “I couldn’t get answers. I remembered that in the morning before he left I told him I loved him and he said, ‘Right back at ya.’ Then he kissed me ... Little did I know it would be the last kiss he’d ever give me.”

At the hospital Pinky waited from 4:50 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for answers.

“Finally the doctors came out and said they did everything they could to save him,” she says.

By nightfall all her children gathered around their mother to weep for the death of their father.

“The thing I’ll miss most is his snoring,” she says, laughing through tears. “I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to sleep again without hearing Bear snoring beside me.”

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Jul-18-2014 226 0
A Florida dad who told police he walked in on a man sexually abusing his child, left the suspect motionless and bleeding Friday morning on the living room floor, police said.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that the suspect was found at the Daytona Beach home at about 1 a.m. Friday. The paper, citing the arrest report, said Raymond Frolander was found with several knots on his face and bleeding from the mouth.

The 35-year-old father and his son were not identified, but the father reportedly walked in on Frolander sexually battering his son. The boy told police that Frolander took him to a back room of the house and pulled down his pants, the report said.

The boy, who is apparently under the age of 12, had been playing video games with friends before the alleged attack.

Frolander was treated at an area hospital and allegedly told police “I’m guilty,” when questioned.

He is being held without bail. Frolander was charged with sexual battery by an 18-year-old on a victim under 12, the report said. The father was not charged.

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AP Jul-18-2014 196 0
A young man who participated in a mob attack on a Detroit-area motorist needed a father to "beat the hell" out of him as a kid to discourage him from committing such a crime, a judge said Thursday.

The stunning remarks by Wayne County Judge James Callahan came as he sentenced Latrez Cummings to six months in jail.

In response to the judge's question, Cummings, 19, said his father wasn't around when he was growing up.

Callahan said Cummings needed a dad, "someone to discipline you. Someone to beat the hell out of you when you made a mistake, as opposed to allowing you or encouraging you to do it to somebody else."

Cummings and four others have pleaded guilty to assaulting Steve Utash, who was in a coma for days after the April attack. The mob pounced on him in Detroit when he got out of his pickup truck to help a 10-year-old boy who had stepped in front of his vehicle.

The judge's remarks preceded a loud, spirited exchange with assistant prosecutor Lisa Lindsay, who said the six-month sentence was too light. She said there are many young black men who were raised without a father but haven't commited crimes. Cummings is black.

"Did I ever use the term 'black'?" replied Callahan, who is white. "It doesn't matter if a person is black, white, yellow or red."

Cummings was the last defendant to be sentenced in the case. The longest sentence was nearly 6 ½ years in prison for a man whose punishment was enhanced because of his criminal record.

Told about Callahan's comments, the president of Chicago-based Prevent Child Abuse America, James Hmurovich, said "effective discipline" is part of raising children but "violence is never the answer."

The judge was aggressive throughout the hearing. He ordered the well-dressed Cummings to take his hand out of his pocket and accused him of lying a week ago about his school attendance.

Callahan, citing records, said Cummings hadn't attended classes since December.

"Tell me what the heck you did with your time," he said.

Despite the harsh tone, the judge said Cummings' age and childhood were mitigating factors in the light sentence.

"We've all been 19 years of age," Callahan said.

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Ken Murray Jul-18-2014 184 0
A 400-pound asthmatic Staten Island dad died Thursday after a cop put him in a chokehold and other officers appeared to slam his head against the sidewalk, video of the incident shows.

“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Eric Garner, 43, repeatedly screamed after at least five NYPD officers took him down in front of a Tompkinsville beauty supply store when he balked at being handcuffed.

Within moments Garner, a married father of six children with two grandchildren, stopped struggling and appeared to be unconscious as police called paramedics to the scene. An angry crowd gathered, some recording with smartphones.

“When I kissed my husband this morning, I never thought it would be for the last time,” Garner’s wife, Esaw, told the Daily News.

She got no details from police until after she had gone to the hospital to identify his body, she said.

“I saw him with his eyes wide open and I said, ‘Babe, don’t leave me, I need you.’ But he was already gone,” she said.

A family friend searching for her in the hospital ran into detectives from the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Division. The friend put them on the phone with her, the grieving widow said.

She spoke with a Detective Howard, who told her, “I’m sorry for your loss,” she said. He said his office was involved “because there is wrongdoing,” she said.

Police officials said Garner had a history of arrests for selling untaxed cigarettes. Cops said they observed him selling his wares Thursday on Bay St. and moved in for an arrest.

An NYPD spokesman would only say the man “was being placed in custody, went into cardiac arrest and died” at Richmond University Medical Center.

But Esaw Garner and other family members said it was a trumped up claim.

“They’re covering their asses, he was breaking up a fight. They harassed and harassed my husband until they killed him,” she said. Garner’s family said he didn’t have any cigarettes on him or in his car at the time of his death.

She said she pleaded with police at the hospital to tell her what happened, but they brushed her off.

“They wouldn’t tell me anything,” she said.

Officials confirmed that NYPD Internal Affairs officers launched an investigation Thursday night.

Records show Garner was due in court in October on three Staten Island cases, including charges of pot possession and possession or selling untaxed cigarettes.

Esaw Garner said her husband was unable to work because he suffered from a host of ailments, including chronic asthma, diabetes and sleep apnea.

Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, 65, added, “I want justice.”

'When I kissed my husband this morning, I never thought it would be for the last time,' Garner’s wife, Esaw Garner, told the Daily News. Esaw Garner holds a photo of her late husband with sons Emery (left) and Eric.


Police said Garner was not armed.

The Staten Island resident was sitting in front of Bay Beauty on Bay St. and Victory Blvd. just before 5 p.m. when two plainclothes cops began questioning him about selling untaxed cigarettes, a video obtained by the Daily News shows.

“I didn’t do s---!” the 6-foot-4 Garner, wearing a sweaty T-shirt and khaki shorts, told the officers from the 120th Precinct when they approached him. “I was just minding my own business.

“Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today!” he yelled.

Ramsey Orta, 22, who shot the video, tried to intervene, telling the cops his friend had just broken up a fight between three men and had not been selling cigarettes.

But when backup uniformed officers arrived, the cops moved in to cuff Garner, the video shows.

“Don’t touch me, please,” he said.
When Garner refused orders to put his hands behind his back, one of the plainclothes cops, wearing a green T-shirt with a yellow No. 99 on the back, got behind him and put him in a chokehold, the footage shows.

A struggle ensued as three uniformed officers joined in on the arrest, knocking the man to the ground.

He screamed, “I can’t breathe!” six times before he went silent and paramedics were called.

“They jumped him and they were choking him. He was foaming at the mouth,” Orta told The News. “And that’s it, he was done. The cops were saying, ‘No, he’s OK, he’s OK.” He wasn’t OK.”

“They were choking him. He kept saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe! Get off of me, get off of me!’ and I didn’t hear any more talking after that,” said witness Valencia Griffin, 50, of Staten Island. “He died right there.”

Another witness, who would only give his first name, Douglas, said he’d known Garner for four years.

“He’s a very big man, very intimidating, but he’s just a big teddy bear,” said Douglas, 50. “He’s the nicest guy. I can’t believe what I saw. That’s no way to do an arrest.”

At the video’s end, the cop who had choke-held Garner can be seen staring at the camera that was videotaping him.

“This had nothing to do with the fight, this had something to do with something else,” the cop said, and walked away.

A law enforcement source said the incident was troubling.

“A guy is dead in our custody. That is always a potential problem,” the source said.


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