Trio involved in sex trafficking sting to appear in court next week

August 21, 2023

Trio involved in sex trafficking sting to appear in court next week

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

LUDINGTON — Three men who were arrested earlier this month in a sex trafficking sting will appear in 79th District Court next week. 


Steven Wayne Volpp, 58, of Hart, Kenneth Smith, 53, of Ormond Beach, Fla., and Gabriel Talevich, 20, of Wyoming, Mich., were arrested in separate incidents during a sting operation on Wednesday, Aug. 9 at Suttons Landing in Pere Marquette Township. 


The sting was a joint effort by the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Ludington Police Department, and Michigan State Police, with support from the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office human trafficking team GHOST (Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team), Oceana County Sheriff’s Office and SSCENT (State, Sheriff’s, Chief’s Enforcement of Narcotics Team). 

“This operation involved the suspects engaging in on-line chatting with a person they believed to be a 15-year-old,” Sheriff Kim Cole said during a press conference following the arrests. “Make no mistake, those arrested knew full well the age of the person being solicited. After a price for services was established, a meeting was set up at Sutton’s Landing on Iris Road in Pere Marquette Township. 


Each have been charged with accosting a minor for immoral purposes, a felony punishable by up to four years imprisonment and/or a $4,000 fine; using a computer to commit a crime, a felony punishable by four to 10 years and/or a $5,000 fine; and prostitution/engaging in services, a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. 

See related story here. 

Bail was set for each Volpp and Talevich at $100,000 cash and for Smith at $150,000 cash. Each is scheduled to appear in 79th District Court at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30 for a preliminary examination. At that point, the judge will determine if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed and if it will be moved to circuit court. 

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