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Pontiac — Former “Survivor” TV show contestant Michael Skupin was found guilty Friday of four of six counts of possession of child pornography following a two-day trial.

Skupin, 54, of White Lake Township faces up to four years in prison for the felony charges, which resulted from a state investigation earlier this year into a Ponzi-style investment scheme, “Pay It Forward,” which he allegedly was operating in Oakland County.

There will be a separate trial on the investment charges on Monday before Oakland County Circuit Judge Wendy Potts. Skupin remains free on bond.

“We are disappointed at the jury’s decision,” said Steven Lynch, Skupin’s attorney. “We don’t feel the evidence supports the charges but they felt differently.”

A jury of eight women and four men deliberated only two and a half hours before returning their verdict.

“The children in these videos and images were exploited, and each time the images were shared and viewed continued their suffering,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement. “My hope is that today’s conviction will bring some closure to the families and the children that are victims in this case.”

Special agents from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office raided two White Lake addresses where Skupin resides or kept property and seized two laptop computers that were found to contain photo images of minors involved in sexual acts.

Skupin, who testified in his own defense, maintained he did not access the images and didn’t know how they got on his computers. Lynch had argued several people — including seven of Skupin’s children and stepchildren — have access to the computers.

Special Agent David Dwyre said when agents raided one home on Sandlewood, they found Skupin hiding in the basement appearing to be talking on a telephone. Skupin explained he had noticed unusual cars in the neighborhood and told Dwyre that he feared “someone was going to kill me.”

Skupin’s investment charges involve defrauding numerous people of thousands of dollars in an alleged Ponzi scheme, in which earlier investors are paid off from funds obtained by later investors until the scheme eventually collapses. The charges are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison, but Skupin also faces a racketeering charge that carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Skupin, who in recent years also worked as a motivational speaker, appeared in two different seasons of the “Survivor” reality television show. He is probably best known for being so exhausted and weak that he pitched forward into a campfire and suffered serious burns and had to be airlifted off the island.

Skupin will be sentenced Dec. 27 by Potts on the child pornography charges.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319

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