Former milwaukee county sheriff's sergeant indicted for sexual exploitation of children (Production, advertisement, distribution and possession of child pornography)
United States Attorney James L. Santelle of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced today the grand jury returned a nine-count indictment against Philip H. Wentzel (age: 41) of West Allis, Wisconsin. Wentzel is a former Sergeant with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.
Specifically, Wentzel was indicted for six counts of production of child pornography and one count each of advertising, distribution, and possession of child pornography. The indictment alleges that from 2009, through approximately April, 2011, Wentzel knowingly produced child pornography. It is alleged that each count of production of child pornography involved a different minor female victim. According to court documents, Wentzel was involved in a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing program to share images and videos of child pornography which he and others produced. It is alleged that in March, 2012, Wentzel’s P2P profile page advertised he was looking for original images of child pornography involving minor girls.
If convicted of production of child pornography, and advertisement to exchange/share child pornography, Wentzel faces a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and a minimum of 5 years and up to life time of supervised release following his term of imprisonment, on each count. If convicted of distribution of child pornography, Wentzel faces a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment. Wentzel faces up to 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and a minimum of 5 years and up to life of supervised release if convicted of the possession of child pornography count.
According to United States Attorney James L. Santelle, “Our continuing, aggressive identification of people who victimize and prey upon the most vulnerable - our children - has resulted in this important prosecution of an individual who has been producing child pornography for at least two years. That some of those images depict minors being sexually assaulted aggravates the criminal conduct - and underscores the connection between abusive physical conduct and the on-line sharing and distribution of child pornography. This is also the first time that a defendant in this district has been charged with advertising for the further distribution of the pornography."
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Milwaukee Cyber Crimes Task Force, with the assistance of the Milwaukee Police Department, High Technology Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Penelope L. Coblentz has been assigned to prosecute this case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006, by the U.S. Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
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