Two suspects in a human trafficking case in Macomb Township have had their charges bound over to the Macomb County Circuit Court as their lawyer's seek plea deals.

Two suspects in a human trafficking case in Macomb Township have had their charges bound over to the Macomb County Circuit Court as their lawyer's seek plea deals.

File photo

Human trafficking suspects attempting to facilitate plea deals

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 2, 2018

 Michael Welch

Michael Welch

 Misty George

Misty George

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A pair of Macomb Township residents accused of human trafficking have had their cases bound over to Macomb County Circuit Court, and each defendant may seek separate plea deals.

Misty George, 30, and Michael Welch, 38, had their cases bound over at the end of May from the 41-A District Court in Shelby Township. They both now await a pretrial conference scheduled for 1:30 p.m. July 16 at the Circuit Court, 40 N. Main St., in Mount Clemens.

The two are accused of keeping a 29-year-old woman with mental and physical disabilities in a shed last fall near their home off of 21 Mile Road in Macomb Township, in a community that sits across the street from Dakota High School. According to the charges, the couple allegedly set up dates online with men who paid money for sexual services with the woman.

George was bound over on charges of human trafficking forced labor, using a computer to commit a felony and accepting earnings for prostitution. Welch’s charges are human trafficking forced labor and accepting earnings for prostitution.

Welch also was bound over on charges of trying to escape after he attempted to flee from police last October following a court hearing. He was captured after a brief chase.

George testified against Welch in a preliminary exam, her attorney, Azhar Sheikh, said, and she is a cooperating witness and looking to facilitate a better deal. Sheikh said George will not go to trial as he works on a plea deal. George is still being held on bond.

“It is basically a done deal and she will testify in trial against Michael,” Sheikh said. “Whether he can read the writing on the wall or if he goes to trial is still to be seen. He is the biggest culprit in all of this and my client is responsible for her actions, but she is cooperating and giving (the prosecution) the information needed.”

Welch’s attorney, Steven Freers, said having George testify against Welch “doesn’t make it any easier,” but he said she admitted to lying, so he is not sure how it will play out. Freers said he is also working on a plea deal.

“We are talking about working out a plea agreement, but at this point we haven’t come to any decision yet,” Freers said. “Obviously, if we can get some charges reduced, it will make it easier on him, but at this point he maintains his innocence.”

The alleged victim testified during a hearing in March in the district court that she was allowed to initially stay with George and Welch in exchange for some money and food stamps, and then a monthly charge after that.

The woman then said the couple forced her to live in a shed outside their trailer and forced her to have sex with men for money. She testified that the first incident was at the house of a man and the second at a motel in Fraser.

The woman testified she never slept an entire night in the shed and instead was allowed to use a vacant mobile home that George and Welch had previously owned in the area. The woman told her cousin and friend what happened and they called the police last September, prompting an investigation by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

Both George and Welch underwent psychiatric exams in last 2017 and both were found competent to stand trial and culpable of the crimes of which they are accused.