NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A former sergeant with the Newport News Police Department pleaded guilty today to the sexual exploitation of children and receipt of child pornography.
According to court documents, Michael Nicholas Covey, 39, of Newport News, used a child to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purposes of producing a visual depiction of such conduct and distributing those images to a sex offender in Ohio.
When child sexual assault images were found on the convicted sex offenders’ electronic devices, the images were submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in Alexandria. During the analysis of the images, NCMEC determined that the images may have been produced in Newport News. NCMEC forwarded the information to the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (SOVA ICAC) who, in turn, contacted the FBI. Agents with the FBI were able to identify the child depicted in the images. Further investigation led the agents to Covey. He was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on Friday, June 10.
Covey pleaded guilty to two counts of the sexual exploitation of children and one count of receipt of child pornography and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 22, 2023. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of 80 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. 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 Douglas Miller accepted the plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa McKeel and Pete Osyf are prosecuting the case.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Norfolk Child Exploitation Task Force (NCETF), as part of Project Safe Childhood. The NCETF is composed of FBI agents and detectives from the Chesapeake Police Department, Hampton Police Division, and Newport News Police Department. Assistance in this matter was also provided by federal agents from Homeland Security Investigations. The task force is charged with investigating and bringing federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children. Tips regarding child exploitation can be provided to the task force at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov.
Project Safe Childhood is 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 www.justice.gov/psc
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. 4:22-cr-48.