Shelby Township man arrested for allegedly possessing child sexually abusive material

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby-Utica News | Published June 19, 2023

 Michael James Cunningham

Michael James Cunningham


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office said that it arrested a 66-year-old man from Shelby Township for allegedly possessing child sexually abusive material June 2.

The Sheriff’s Office said that the Department of Homeland Security had provided a tip to the sheriff’s Macomb Area Computer Enforcement unit about child pornography being downloaded over the internet. With some investigation, the DHS tip led the Macomb Area Computer Enforcement unit and Sheriff’s Enforcement Team detectives to an address in Shelby Township.

Detectives executed a search warrant at the Shelby township residence, where the Sheriff’s Office said it took electronic evidence into custody, including laptop computers, hard drives, thumb drives and more.

The Sheriff’s Office said that investigators’ initial reviews found child pornography, but a more thorough forensic review found more than 1,000 images and videos of child sexually abusive material.

The Sheriff’s Office took Michael James Cunningham into custody — without incident, according to a press release — and Cunningham was lodged at the Macomb County Jail. Cunningham was charged with three counts of child sexually abusive material–aggravated possession and three counts of using computers to commit a crime.

Magistrate Jim Verploeg arraigned Cunningham June 5 at the 41-A District Court in Shelby Township. He was given a $50,000, 10% cash or surety bond. He was scheduled to next appear in court for a probable cause conference June 20, which occurred after press time. His preliminary examination was scheduled for June 27.

When the Sheriff’s Office was asked whether it had any concerns that the case could go beyond possessing child pornography, it was unable to provide more information.

“As the investigation is still ongoing, we are not able to speak to that,” Jennifer Putney, the public information officer from the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, said via email.

C & G Newspapers was unable to reach Cunningham’s attorney, Patrick T. Barone.