Michael Welch, of Macomb Township, was sentenced to between five and 20 years in prison for forced labor human trafficking and using a computer to commit a crime May 16. He is pictured with his attorney Michael Hennigan.

Michael Welch, of Macomb Township, was sentenced to between five and 20 years in prison for forced labor human trafficking and using a computer to commit a crime May 16. He is pictured with his attorney Michael Hennigan.

Photo by Sean Work


Macomb Township human trafficking suspects sentenced

Welch gets a minimum of five years

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published May 17, 2019

 Co-defendant Misty George also appeared in court May 16 for sentencing. She was given five years probation for forced labor human trafficking. She is pictured with her attorney Azhar Sheikh.

Co-defendant Misty George also appeared in court May 16 for sentencing. She was given five years probation for forced labor human trafficking. She is pictured with her attorney Azhar Sheikh.

Photo by Sean Work

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“You preyed upon those vulnerabilities.”

Michael Servitto, Macomb County Circuit Court Judge

MOUNT CLEMENS — A Macomb Township human trafficking case is now closed.

On May 16, Michael Welch was sentenced to between five and 20 years in prison for forced labor human trafficking and using a computer to commit a crime. For accepting earnings of a prostitute, he was sentenced to between four and 40 years in prison.

Welch was also sentenced to between three and eight years in prison, with credit for 589 days served, on one count of escape while awaiting trial for a felony.

In April, he pleaded guilty to four felony charges.

Welch, 40, and Misty George, 32, also of Macomb Township, were arrested in October 2017 for human trafficking after setting up dates online between men and a 29-year-old woman with mental and physical impairments living near their home.

In 2017, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous complaint a month prior to the arrest regarding human trafficking in the Westbridge Manor mobile home park near 21 Mile and Heydenreich roads.

Welch read from a prepared statement, beginning with an apology to the victim.

“I am deeply sorry for everything that’s happened in this case,” he said. “Hopefully, one day, all will be forgiven.”

He also apologized to George and her family for putting them through “this nightmare.”

“I’ve had some time in the county jail to evaluate my life and change it for the better from here on out,” Welch said.   

He has been incarcerated since Oct. 3, 2017.

The victim, who was not in court, prepared a statement, which focused on how the case affected her. It was read by Macomb County Victims Advocate Karen Phillips.

“I no longer desire being around other people,” Phillips read. “My goal now, instead of being adventurous, I now desire isolation and seclusion. I cannot have the door closed when I am in a room. All this is due to the actions of Mr. Welch and Ms. George.”

Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Michael Servitto said Welch’s action were abhorrent and coldly manipulative.

Prior to sentencing Welch, Servitto said that George’s presentence investigative report details that Welch encouraged George to perform sexual acts on patrons as part of her job as a massage therapist.

“We couldn’t expect you to be any less callous with (George’s) friend who suffered from debilitating disabilities and simply sought shelter,” Servitto said. “You preyed upon those vulnerabilities.”    

In April, Welch’s attorney, Michael Hennigan, said on the night of the incident, Welch and George made the victim go out and sleep in a shed out back.

Welch also said last month that the victim was a friend of George and that he was approached by the victim about ways she could make money. According to police, Welch and George were housing the victim in a vacant shed.

After removing the victim from their home, police say the two then set up dating advertisements for the woman online, and several men responded and paid money to the two for sexual services from the woman.

George was given five years probation for forced labor human trafficking, a charge she pleaded no contest to in November.

“My client accepts full responsibility,” George’s attorney, Azhar Sheikh, said. “She was an adult when these events occurred, and she’s an adult now. I have seen a big change in her since then.”

George, who is not in custody and already spent 422 days in jail, only said a few words, apologizing to the victim.    

“Ms. George exploited a friendship in this manner and the victim’s vulnerability,” Macomb County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Bill Harding said. “To her credit, she testified against Mr. Welch, which I believe played a substantial role.”

Sheikh thanked Servitto for showing his client some mercy in what he called a strange case.

George is to attend sex offender case management team meetings and complete sex offender treatment.

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