OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA
Sharon L. Potter
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
1125 Chapline Street, Federal Building, Suite 3000 ● Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 234-0100 ● Contact: Fawn E. Thomas, Public Affairs Specialist
July 31, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Richmond, Virginia, Resident Entered Guilty Plea
to Charge Relating to Sexual Activity with a Minor
MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA — A 53 year old Richmond, Virginia, resident entered a plea of guilty on July 28, 2009, in United States District Court in Martinsburg before Magistrate Judge David J. Joel.
United States Attorney Sharon L. Potter announced that RONALD L. PHILLIPS entered a plea of guilty to one count of an Indictment charging him with interstate travel for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a minor. In June of 2006, PHILLIPS began an on-line “chat” relationship with a person who he believed to be a 14 year old Romney, West Virginia, girl. PHILLIPS’ email and online conversations with the minor were continuous from June through the morning of July 30, 2006, when PHILLIPS left Richmond, Virginia, and traveled to Romney, West Virginia, for an arranged meeting to have sex with the minor. When PHILLIPS arrived in Romney, he was confronted by the “minor,” who turned out to be an undercover Hampshire County Deputy Sheriff, as well as several Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
PHILLIPS, who is in custody, faces a maximum penalty of 30 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
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 Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas O. Mucklow. The case was investigated by the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Department, who was assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
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