Shame On You, Sex Offenders & Others In Positions Of Trust, Human Trafficking, Sex Offenders and Others Committing Additional Crimes.

Dec 5, 2018

Macomb Daily

A Macomb Township couple who took advantage of a disabled woman recently pleaded no contest to human-trafficking charges and will be sentenced next month.  Michael Welch, 40, and Misty George, 32, made pleas last week in Macomb County Circuit Court for a series of events in August and September 2017 involving a then-29-year-old woman who was coerced into prostitution and forced to spend part of a night in a shed.  The pleas occurred on the day the case against Welch was to go to trial and George was to testify against him.

The defendants also pleaded to a computer crime for setting up “dates” for the woman on craigslist. Welch also pleaded guilty to escape from custody for running from the 41A District Court building in Shelby Township for an appearance on the human-trafficking charges. He faces a minimum term of 23 months in prison for the human trafficking charges and a probable minimum term of between 10 and 34 months for the escape charge.

George, who spent more than a year in the county jail, could be sentenced to time-served because her sentencing guideline range goes from probation to nine months.  Judge Michael Servitto last week also allowed George to be freed while awaiting the Jan. 10 sentencing.  “This is a very fair outcome under all the circumstances,” said George’s attorney, Azhar Sheikh, following the hearing.  Sheikh and Welch’s attorney, Steven Freers, pointed out their client’s actions were not as severe as initially portrayed by police. For instance, the woman, who was living with and paying rent to the couple, was not locked in a shed for a night next to the couple’s mobile home. She spent half the night in a shed and half the night in a vacant mobile home nearby.

The woman testified she moved in with the couple at Westbridge Manor park near 21 Mile and Heydenreich roads and paid $360 in food stamps and $75 in cash the first month and was to pay $400 per month after that.  The couple soon told her they devised a way to 'scam' people by setting up dates via the online classified ad site Craigslist and taking the money but not providing the service, the woman testified. George told her they would charge the customers $200 per hour.

She testified multiple dates fell through but two took place with the same man, once at his home and once at a motel.  George gave the woman $50 after the first date and didn’t pay her following the second date.  She refused to go on another date and was prevented from entering the residence, forcing her to spend half the night in a shed.  She called for help and was taken to a hospital.