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Press Release

Virginia Beach Man Pleads Guilty to Producing Child Sexual Abuse Material

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

NORFOLK, Va. – A Virginia Beach man pleaded guilty today to production and distribution of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

According to court documents, from at least 2020 through March 2023, Thomas Cervantes, 24, used social media applications, to manipulate and coerce minors to create sexually explicit images that he could then distribute over the internet. In one instance, Cervantes offered money to a minor to initially induce her to create a sexually explicit video of her. When she expressed reluctance to create more sexually explicit material for Cervantes, he threatened to send the images to her family members if she did not comply. Cervantes was also have found to have enticed and coerced other minors and even in one instance shared a video on social media of himself assaulting a minor. 

Cervantes is scheduled to be sentenced on April 25, 2024. Although he faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years and a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert J. Krask accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Kosky is prosecuting the case.

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 U.S. Attorney’s 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

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:23-cr-93.

Updated November 29, 2023

Project Safe Childhood