Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 1, 2013

Former teacher gets 10 years for child porn

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

CATLETTSBURG — A former teacher was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison for having child pornography on his computer.

Thomas Sellers’ sentence was in keeping with his plea agreement. Sellers, 41, of Catlettsburg, pleaded guilty last month in Boyd Circuit Court to seven counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performance by a minor, according to a news release from Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office.

The charges are Class D felonies that each carry a one- to five-year prison sentence. In exchange for Sellers’ guilty plea, the commonwealth agreed to recommended the 10-year term.

The charges against Sellers stemmed from a 2012 undercover operation by the Ohio Attorney General’s office that identified a computer possessing images of child sexual exploitation.

A subpoena revealed the Internet subscriber, who was identified as Sellers, lived in Catlettsburg. Agents from the Ohio Attorney General’s Computer Crimes Unit referred their findings to Conway’s Cybercrimes Unit for further investigation.

Cybercrimes investigators executed a search warrant at Sellers’ home, and a forensic examination of his computer found 455 images and 325 videos depicting the sexual exploitation of children.

Sellers was once a teacher in the Lawrence County school district.

Other defendants sentenced Friday in Boyd Circuit Court, according to Boyd Commonwealth’s Attorney David Justice’s office, were:

Michael D. Johnson, 21, of Catlettsburg, two years for drugs.

Buddy Howard, 38, of Ashland, two years for drugs.

Blake Laudahl, 25, of Eddyville, one year for drugs.

Mark Riffe, 29, of Ashland, four years for receiving a stolen firearm.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.