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Press Release

Sacramento Man Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison For Child Exploitation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Phillip J. Colwell, 54, of Sacramento, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Troy L. Nunley to 30 years in prison for producing child pornography, transmitting obscene matter to a minor, and using a cellphone to entice a minor to engage in unlawful sexual conduct, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

Colwell pleaded guilty in April 2012. According to the guilty plea, Colwell engaged in a series of cellphone text conversations with a 14-year-old Sacramento boy to whom he sent sexually explicit images and with whom he sought to engage in sexual conduct. Colwell encouraged him to produce sexually explicit images of himself to send to Colwell. In July 2011, Colwell engaged in sex acts with a 16-year-old Sacramento boy, and took sexually explicit photos of him. Colwell then uploaded the photos to a website in order to promote the commercial sex trafficking of the boy.

In sentencing Colwell to 30 years, Judge Nunley stated “You are a predator. You prey on young boys.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the FBI’s Sacramento-based Innocence Lost Task Force, the Sacramento Police Department, and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew G. Morris prosecuted the case.

“Our agents and fellow Innocence Lost Task Force members bravely face the challenge of identifying and investigating individuals who seek to exploit a child’s innocence.  In this case, Colwell used a mobile phone and the internet to lure and exploit children,”  said Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the Sacramento division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Colwell’s sentencing is an opportunity to remind all parents and guardians to monitor the text and online activity of each child and to reach out to law enforcement for help immediately if predatory activity is discovered or suspected. “

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit Click on the “resources” tab for information about Internet safety education.

Updated April 8, 2015

Press Release Number: Docket #: 2:12-cr-73-GEB