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Press Release

Billings man sentenced to five years in prison for attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor

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

BILLINGS  — A Billings man convicted in an undercover sting operation to identify and arrest persons who were attempting to have sex with children was sentenced today to five years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Thomas Clay Sebastian, 25, pleaded guilty in June 2022 to attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.

The government alleged in court documents that in October 2021, law enforcement conducted an undercover sting operation in Billings to identify and arrest individuals who were attempting to have sex with children. Sebastian responded to an undercover post and began corresponding with a fictitious 13-year-old girl. Sebastian engaged in a sexual conversation with the undercover and asked whether the girl would engage in intercourse with him. The undercover agreed if Sebastian brought condoms and plans were made to meet in a park. Law enforcement arrested Sebastian when he arrived at the location. Sebastian later acknowledged that it was wrong to for him to chat with the undercover about sex and that he thought “maybe I’ll get away with it one time.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie R. Patten prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI.

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



Clair Johnson Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated May 5, 2023

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 23-143