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Schuette: Port Huron Man Pleads Guilty to Human Trafficking, Sentenced to Up to 15 Years in Prison

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that Joseph McGough, 24, of Port Huron has pleaded guilty to one count of Human Trafficking – Forced Labor resulting in Commercial Sex, for his involvement in the sex trafficking of a minor.

McGough, who has been in custody since his arrest in 2017, was sentenced today in Macomb County Circuit Court before Judge Katherine Viviano to 47.5 months to 15 years in prison with credit for 343 days.

“Human trafficking is a serious crime that unfortunately happens every day here in Michigan,” said Schuette, “I want to thank AAG Carter for her work on this case  and the commitment to fighting this form of modern day slavery.”

The prosecution of this case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Kelly Carter, who leads Schuette’s Human Trafficking Unit. McGough and co-defendant Robert Standfield were charged in December 2017. Standfield is set for trial in February 2019.


An investigation into the actions of McGough and Standfield was initiated by the Warren Police Department and conducted with the help of the FBI-led Macomb County Child Exploitation Task Force after their alleged victim came forward in September 2017.  The Task Force consists of FBI, Warren Police Department, Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, and Centerline Public Safety Division. The girl, who was a minor at the time, alleged that McGough was trafficking her out of hotels in Macomb and Oakland County between April and September 2017.

The victim alleged that she and her friend were recruited and encouraged to engage in commercial sex by McGough and his friend Robert Standfield. McGough then took the victim from her hometown to the metro Detroit area where they used hotels for her to engage in commercial sex.

McGough showed his victim how to use Backpage and instructed her to post in the “massage” section under a pseudonym. McGough also took all earnings his victim made from performing commercial sex. His victim alleged she had to go on multiple “dates” a day. 

McGough’s friend Standfield allegedly took over McGough’s role in the operation during a period of time when McGough was out of town.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.


Upon taking office in 2011, Schuette launched the state’s first Human Trafficking Unit in the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute human traffickers under state law. Since then, Schuette's Human Trafficking Unit has arrested 24 individuals on human trafficking charges and secured 21 human trafficking convictions, with cases against several additional defendants currently pending.

Mug shot of McGough