Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Saturday

May 3, 2014

Two face prostitution-related charges in Leelanau

SUTTONS BAY — A Muskegon man helped a suspected prostitute procure clients in Leelanau County for a cut of her earnings, authorities said.

Thomas John Vandermel, 59, appeared Friday for arraignment in 86th District Court on felony charges of accepting earnings from prostitution and financially benefiting from human trafficking.

Tanya Sue Paulsen, 29, of Hesperia, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of accosting and soliciting.

Authorities arrested the pair Tuesday after an undercover sting at the Red Lion Motor Lodge in Bingham Township. Owner Paula Stephenson said she didn’t know about the investigation before officers checked in and arrested Paulsen.

“She wasn’t here for any amount of time at all,” Stephenson said. “It was handled very well, very quickly and very speedy.”

Records show Vandermel bonded Paulsen out from Leelanau County’s jail Tuesday at 12:55 p.m. after she failed to meet bond conditions on a prior drug possession charge.

Officers booked her back into the same jail about six hours later after her arrest on the soliciting charge. Vandermel followed her at 8:54 p.m.

Court documents state Paulsen told authorities that she’d gone to the motel for prostitution “where she was to spend an hour to have sex with two unknown men for $300.”

“She indicated that Vandermel will set up appointments, drive her to appointments, stay in the area for protection and take a portion of what she makes for the sexual favors provided,” the document states.

Vandermel told authorities he knew Paulsen came to Leelanau County for prostitution and he drove her. He said she’d collect $200 from the $300.

Traverse Narcotics Team Detective Lt. Daniel King said the investigation involved an undercover TNT officer. He said they typically handle drug cases, but often go undercover in other investigations.

“We will adapt to whatever need there is of the community,” he said.

Paulsen remains in Leelanau County’s jail after authorities revoked her bond. She’s scheduled for an 86th District Court pretrial on May 9.

Vandermel is scheduled for a May 9 preliminary examination. He remains jailed on a $100,000 cash or surety bond. His charges carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Leelanau County Prosecutor Joe Hubbell declined comment through a staff member.



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