Troy real estate broker sentenced for gambling scheme that cost investors $23 million

A man addicted to the Michigan Lottery was sentenced to more than four years in prison Wednesday for a scheme that cost investors more than $23 million.

Viktor Gjonaj of Troy told people that he was plowing their money into real estate deals. Instead, he was playing the Daily 3 and Daily 4 games — more than $1 million a week by 2019.

Gjonaj believed he had discovered a guaranteed way to win big jackpots, according to his plea agreement.

Instead, Gjonaj "wound up with nothing other than a federal felony conviction," defense attorney Steve Fishman said in a court filing.

Gjonaj, a real estate broker, created a fake title company and instructed investors to wire money into a bank account, investigators said.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker sentenced him to 53 months in federal prison.

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Fishman, who had sought 30 months, said Gjonaj confessed to the FBI even before agents knew there was a scam.

He called it an "extraordinary acceptance of responsibility."