Local News

Former school maintenance director to change plea

The former maintenance director for Petersburg schools plans to plead guilty to charges of possession and distribution of child pornography. An attorney for Tye Leif Petersen and prosecutors have signed a plea agreement for the charges in federal court.

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Petersen worked for the school district from 2002 until October of last year. He resigned his job as maintenance director for the school district after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents searched his home. He was arrested in Juneau shortly after as he tried to leave for Seattle.

Petersen was scheduled to go to trial this year on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography. The plea agreement signed by Petersen’s attorney and federal prosecutors this month means he will not go to trial. Instead he plans to enter guilty pleas to the three charges.

The case stems from an FBI investigation of a Yahoo email account in eastern Tennessee, identified in court documents only as “Tennessee Joe 1.” The FBI found Petersen exchanged sexually explicit images and video via email leading to his questioning and search of his home in Petersburg. There authorities found 11 CDs, five thumb drives, three hard drives and an apple desktop all holding images of children. In total, the FBI found over 12-hundred images and more than three dozen videos depicting prepubescent minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

In exchange for the guilty pleas, the federal government will not prosecute Petersen further for any other known offense stemming from the investigation.

Petersen faces a minimum of five years in jail for the three counts, or up to 20 years. He could also be fined up to 250-thousand for each count and could be under supervision after jail time for five years or longer. The federal probation office will prepare a sentencing recommendation for the judge to consider. Petersen has another status hearing in his case scheduled for June 23rd.

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