Commonwealth v. Michael Joseph Popovich; “Hansen v. Predator” Series Leads to Local Investigation; Man Sentenced to 10 Years for Solicitation of Minors

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth's Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced today that Michael Joseph Popovich, 55 years old, formerly of the 3100 block of Barbour Drive in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was sentenced for two counts of Electronic Means for Procuring Minors for Obscene Material. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Circuit Court Judge William R. O'Brien sentenced Popovich to 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended leaving 10 years to serve.  During his remaining 10 years of good behavior, Popovich may not use any electronic devices, must undergo sex offender treatment and anger management treatment, submit to routine polygraph tests, may not have any unsupervised contact with minors, and will be on supervised probation.

Popovich pled guilty on June 7, 2016.  Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth's evidence would have proven that between August 23, 2015 and November 8, 2015, Michael Joseph Popovich communicated with who he thought was a 13-year-old girl online.  The investigation into Popovich began when the Fairfield Police Department in Connecticut worked with Chris Hansen and his television production company, "Hansen vs. Predator."   The focus of their investigation was on adults engaging in sexual conversations with minors online.  Investigators used adult "decoys" to impersonate minors.  One of the adult decoys impersonating a 13-year-old girl by the name of "Bailey" contacted Michael Popovich on a social media application called "Wireclub."  Popovich did not travel to Connecticut to meet "Bailey"; however, he provided sexually explicit photos and videos to "Bailey."  He discussed sexual acts he wanted to perform on "Bailey" and described sexual acts he wanted "Bailey" to perform on him.  The adult decoy secured screen shots of texts, pictures, video still shots, and actual videos of Popovich's communications.  The Fairfield Police Department provided this information to the Virginia Beach Police Department, who took over the investigation. 

On November 12, 2015, a search warrant was obtained for Popovich's home, and on November 13, 2015, Popovich was arrested at the Norfolk International Airport.  He confessed to his conversations with "Bailey" and that he knew she was 13 years old.  He also admitted to sending "Bailey" numerous links of pornography.  Further, he admitted that he had chatted with other juveniles online.  ​

Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Vivian F. Henderson prosecuted this case. Please contact Macie Allen if additional information is desired.

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