News and Press Releases

FCC Petersburg Inmate Convicted of Advertising Child Pornography

September 14, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. – Philip Michael Sebolt, 31, a federal inmate, was found guilty of advertising child pornography yesterday following a bench trial before United States District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr.  Sentencing of the defendant is scheduled for January 28, 2013.  He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

            Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Ken Cuccinelli, Attorney General of Virginia; and Keith A. Fixel, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Charlotte Division, made the announcement. 

            According to evidence presented at trial, in February 2010, Sebolt, who was an inmate at Federal Correctional Center Petersburg (FCC Petersburg) serving a sentence for advertising, transporting, and possessing child pornography and also having been convicted in the State of Illinois of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, asked another inmate to mail a box of letters for him, upon the inmate’s imminent release.  On the morning of the inmate’s release, Sebolt gave the inmate a sealed box and directed him to mail the letters once the inmate was outside FCC Petersburg.  As part of the release process, prison officials searched the inmate’s belongings and found inside of the box, numerous envelopes addressed to various individuals in Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Japan, India, and the Philippines, containing a photocopied, handwritten advertisement that solicited images of child pornography.  The advertisement included graphic descriptions of the sexually explicit conduct that Sebolt sought, as well as a pay scale based upon the number and nature of sexual activity depicted in the image. The reverse side of the advertisement was a collage of images of child pornography, child erotica, and sketched images of genitalia.  The images that comprised the collage were found hidden in a makeshift compartment in a book belonging to Sebolt and kept in his cell.  Some of the addresses on the envelopes matched the addresses of pen-pals from whom Sebolt had previously solicited child pornography.

            This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and Department of Justice, Bureau of Prison Investigators, FCC Petersburg. Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth C. Wu and Special Assistant United States Attorney and Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Thomas K. Johnstone, IV, prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on


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