(LSJ)LANSING -- Stuart Dunnings III, Ingham County's prosecuting attorney for nearly two decades, paid for sex "hundreds of times" with multiple women between 2010 and 2015, according to information released this afternoon by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office.
Dunnings is facing 15 criminal charges in Ingham, Clinton and Ionia counties. Ten are misdemeanors of engaging services of a prostitute, according to court records, but one count in Ingham County's 54A District Court is for pandering — enticing another person to become a prostitute — a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The charges stemmed from a federal investigation into a human trafficking ring based in Michigan, Schuette's office said in a press release.
Tyrone Smith, the leader of that trafficking ring, pleaded guilty in federal court in November to three counts of sex trafficking girls and women and transporting them across state lines as part of an interstate prostitution ring.
Smith admitted to recruiting one woman in December 2012, providing her with heroin, marketing her for sex online and arranging for men to pay her for sex in Lansing, Chicago and other cities over a two-year period, according to the release. He admitted to doing the same to a 17-year-old girl in December 2014. He is slated for sentencing in April and faces a minimum of 15 years in federal prison.
Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth joined Schuette for a 1 p.m. media briefing to "provide brief remarks about the charges and arrest" of Dunnings, 63.
Wriggelsworth, Ingham County's long-time sheriff, said Dunnings' actions are a "huge betrayal of trust."
Mike Dillon, court administrator for 55th District Court, said the judges there have recused themselves and that Dunnings would be arraigned by Jackson County 12th District Court Judge Michael Klaeren.
The court computer for 54A District Court in Lansing shows seven criminal charges, including pandering, which is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Court records also show a charge of willful neglect of duty and five counts of engaging in the services of a prostitute.
The court computer for 55th District Court in Mason shows three criminal charges entered today: willful neglect of duty and two counts of engaging in services of a prostitute. Dunnings hasn't been arraigned yet, according to court records.
Officials at Ionia County's 64A District Court confirmed this morning that Dunnings faces two counts there: willful neglect of duty and engaging the services of a prostitute.
Dunnings, a Democrat, was first elected prosecutor in November 1996 and was most recently re-elected in 2012 to his fifth four-year term. He is a past president of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.
He has presented himself in the past as a staunch opponent of prostitution.
In 2001, Dunnings took over prosecuting the city's prostitution-related crimes in hopes of getting tougher penalties for offenders. He began impounding johns' vehicles and charging prostitutes and their customers with felonies for third offenses. In the first two years alone, his prosecutors charged 19 people with felonies and impounded 53 vehicles.
Schuette is asking anyone who may have been a victim of Dunnings to contact the attorney general's office at (517) 241-6556.