Meadville woman charged with labor trafficking, involuntary servitude at Mifflin County business

Sept. 2 — LEWISTOWN — A Meadville woman is being held in the Mifflin County Jail on charges of labor trafficking and involuntary servitude involving four minor girls at an auto parts store she owns in Lewistown.

The Pennsylvania State Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office arrested and charged Ellen Cummings on Tuesday in connection with an investigation that began in 2020.

Cummings, 44, of 15554 Rogers Ferry Road, is charged with seven counts of involuntary servitude, four counts of labor trafficking, two counts of unlawful restraint, two counts of false imprisonment of involuntary servitude, three counts of failure to pay wages, one count of attempted failure to pay wages and one count of conspiracy charge.

Police allege Cummings employed but did not pay the four girls — ages 15, 16, 17 and 18 — for work they did between February 2019 and October 2020 at Tip Top Resources/Go2Detailing, according to the affidavit arrest warrant.

Cummings ran the business with her boyfriend, Scott Mogel, who is now deceased, according to the affidavit.

The investigation by state police and the attorney general’s office found that Cummings and Mogel had forced minors, including two foster children from Meadville, as well as Cummings’ daughter, to work in their business without compensation.

Police allege that two of the girls were forced to work at the business, forced to live at the business where they slept on air mattresses and that their movements were restricted.

The state police investigation began in September 2021, when the Lewistown Police Department forwarded complaints of labor trafficking and involuntary servitude.

The department had launched an investigation in 2020 after family members of one of the girls learned of the alleged abuse and contacted the police.

According to the affidavit, one of the girls, who was 17 at the time, said she was forced to work at the business without pay and was forced by Cummings and Mogel to stay there.

The affidavit said the girl told police she had met Cummings’ son in Crawford County through a mutual friend. The girl told police that after a few days of dating, she agreed to move with him to Lewistown to work at the business.

The girl told police she detailed vehicles and did mechanical and clerical work but received no financial compensation, but Cummings paid her cellphone bill at least once, the affidavit said.

The girl told police that food was locked in cupboards and she could only eat at certain times.

The girl described “cameras everywhere” and her movements were being tracked, the affidavit said. The girl told police that they took her cell phone to prevent her from contacting her family. Furthermore, he could only leave the property when accompanied by Cummings, Mogel or the son and later became just Cummings or Mogel.

The girl told police she became pregnant while living at the retail business and wrote in an email to a friend that she was not allowed to see a doctor.

The affidavit said police later learned there were two female surrogates that Cummings used or tried to use to work at the business. Cummings told investigators she was a licensed foster parent in Allegheny County.

One of the foster girls said she was at the business and was instructed by Cummings to wash cars, the affidavit said. The girl told police she had been in Lewistown for about a week and had to sleep on air mattresses with Cummings’ children.

The foster girl told police she knew her rights as a foster child and refused to work at the business, the affidavit said. Cummings and Mogel then sent her back to Meadville.

The foster girl told police she felt Cummings and Mogel controlled every aspect of her life while there.

The second foster girl told police she was placed in Cummings’ care by Allegheny County Children and Youth Services, the affidavit said. The girl said she originally lived with Cummings in Meadville before they got together in Lewiston.

The girl told police she agreed to work at the business but was not paid or given any other compensation. She also told investigators that she and others slept in a room with an air mattress.

Cummings’ daughter herself told police she had worked at the business, but was still owed about $1,000 by Cummings for work, the affidavit said. The daughter also described cameras watching her and being watched by Cummings.

Cummings was arrested Wednesday and arraigned before Lewiston District Judge Jack Miller. He was placed in the Mifflin County Detention Center in lieu of $500,000 bail and faces a preliminary hearing on the charges before Miller on Sept. 30.

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *