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Woman accused of human trafficking in Coralville sentenced to supervised probation

This news story was published on September 11, 2012.
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Vanessa Miller, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –

A 22-yar-old woman caught using her teenage sister in a sex trafficking business before she was arrested during a sting in Coralville in April that netted 16 peoplewas sentenced Monday to five years on supervised probation.

Melody McCullom, of Waterloo, pleaded guilty to pandering involving a minor and pimping, and she could have faced up to 15 years in prison. Johnson County District Court Judge Nancy Baumgartner on Monday morning sentenced McCullom to five years in prison for each charge but suspended those sentences, allowing McCullom to serve her term on supervised probation.

McCullom must start her probation in a residential treatment facility. She’ll remain in the Johnson County Jail, where she’s been since her arrest in April, until a bed opens up at a facility.

If McCullom violates any of the terms of her probation, she will be ordered to serve the rest of her sentence behind bars.

“If you mess up, you’re going straight to prison,” Baumgartner said.

“Yes ma’am,” McCullom responded.

Baumgartner called the circumstances of McCullom’s arrest “severe,” and she told McCullom that she hoped the sentence and the treatment will “provide incentive to change your lifestyle and help others do the same thing.”

MCullom was arrested in April on suspicion of felony pimping, pandering involving a minor, human trafficking and prostitution after admitting to running an online business that brought in thousands of dollars a week, according to police. McCullom also admitted to using her 16-year-old sister in the business and taking the proceeds, police reported.

McCullom, according to a criminal complaint, created an Internet page for her younger sister that advertised her availability for “meetings.” She admitted to at least two recent occasions where her sister committed sexual acts with men, police reported.

Another 15 people were arrested in April in the Coralville sting. Those cases are at various stages in the legal process.

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