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Press Release

FCI Petersburg Inmate Sentenced To Life For Advertising Child Pornography

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

RICHMOND, Va. – Philip Michael Sebolt, 32, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Petersburg, Va., was sentenced to life in prison today for advertising child pornography. 

            Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, Attorney General of Virginia; and Gary Barksdale, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge John A. Gibney. 

            Sebolt was convicted at a bench trial on Sept. 13, 2012, of one count of advertising child pornography.  According to the evidence presented at trial and court documents in the case, in February 2010, while searching the property of an inmate who was being released from FCI Petersburg, prison officials intercepted dozens of envelopes Sebolt was attempting to smuggle out of the prison.  Fifteen of the envelopes were addressed to individuals in foreign countries and contained a flyer Sebolt created soliciting the production of child pornography.  The flyer contained detailed instructions on the type of pictures the defendant sought and included a pay scale listing how much money Sebolt would pay for a photograph depicting a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct.  According to the flyer, Sebolt would pay more money for photographs that depicted children engaged in more severe sexually explicit conduct.  The back of the flyer contained pictures of nude children, as well as sketches of children's genitalia in various positions. 

            Prison officials discovered the nude pictures and sketches in Sebolt's cell, and an expert handwriting analysis confirmed that it was highly probable that Sebolt created the flyer.  At the time of the offense, Sebolt was serving a 30-year sentence for advertising child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography.  He also has two prior convictions for predatory criminal sexual abuse of a child from Illinois.

The case was investigated by officials at FCI Petersburg and the United States Postal Inspection Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth Wu and Special Assistant United States Attorney Tommy Johnstone of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office 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
Updated March 18, 2015