Suspects arrested in sting operation in court
MARQUETTE — Three of the five suspects arrested in a joint sting operation in relation to child sex crimes in March have been bound over to the 25th Circuit Court, the Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office announced.
Robert Jay Miller, 42, of Negaunee; Amerie Rackem Stevens, 48, of Skandia; Alan Brian Schwalbach, 64, of Vulcan; Keith David Johnson, 50, of Au Train; and Chad Michael Anderson, 32, of Gwinn were arrested after the sting operation conducted by multiple law enforcement agencies on March 18.
Each of the suspects were charged with the following four offenses:
– Child sexually abusive activity, a felony which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or a fine of $100,000, and also requires the suspect to register as a sex offender under the Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act;
– Use of a computer to commit child sexual abusive activity, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or a fine of $20,000, along with the possibility of a consecutive sentence within the discretion of the court;
– Accosting a child for immoral purposes, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison and/or a fine of $4,000 and also requires the suspect to register as a sex offender; and
– Use of a computer to commit accosting a child for immoral purposes, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and/or a fine of $5,000, along with the possibility of a consecutive sentence.
Preliminary examinations for Miller, Stevens and Schwalbach were held in the 96th District Court Tuesday, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office. At the conclusion of these examinations, Judge Karl A. Weber found probable cause that each of the defendants committed each of the four charged offenses. Weber bound all of the cases and charges on Miller, Stevens and Schwalbach over to the 25th Circuit Court.
Johnson waived his preliminary examination in May, and his case is now pending in the 25th Circuit Court.
Anderson is scheduled for his preliminary examination in the 96th District Court on June 15.
March’s sting operation was a collaborative effort carried out by the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office, the Marquette Police Department, the Michigan State Police, the Iron River Police Department, the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office in the Lower Peninsula along with its Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team, GHOST.
Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese said at a March news conference that no children were harmed before the suspects were arrested.
“The thing I think about the most on this is the fact that we didn’t have any named child victims here,” he said. “Over the years, as you know, I’ve handled many child sexual abuse cases, and it’s very tragic as you’re dealing with children that have already been molested.
“Here, because of the success of the sting operation, we were able to identify people that wanted to prey on children, and they were arrested without any children being harmed in this particular operation. I think it’s proactive and it helps protect other children and sends a message to anyone who might want to participate in this activity that law enforcement will be watching.”
None of the defendants have been convicted and all are still presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, the prosecutor’s office said in the release.