Rockville attorney caught in sex sting enters guilty plea

ROCKVILLE, Md. – A Montgomery County defense attorney pleaded guilty to a child solicitation charge on Thursday in the same courthouse where he has worked for years.

Michael D. Dobbs, 57, was arrested on a charge of soliciting a minor for sex in March.

Dobbs has practiced as a defense attorney in Rockville and at one time served in the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office in the same courthouse where he entered his plea.

Although he appeared in Montgomery County Circuit Court, the prosecution was handled by Howard County prosecutors because of Dobbs’ status as an attorney practicing before Montgomery County judges.

Howard County Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Ritter outlined the case against Dobbs, reading from several of the explicit texts that Dobbs exchanged with someone he believed to be “Brandon,” a 15- year-old Dobbs first encountered on Craig’s List. In reality, Dobbs was in contact with undercover police.

Several times during the exchanges, “Brandon” referenced the fact that he was just 15 years old. Dobbs even responded cautiously, at one time saying that they could stay in touch, but that “I’m not looking to go to jail.”

The emails started in February, and ended in March when Dobbs was arrested when he drove to the parking lot of a climbing gym in Rockville expecting to meet the fictional teen. Instead, Dobbs was confronted by police and eventually charged on the single count of solicitation of a minor for sex.

Prosecutors in the case are asking that Dobbs receive a six-month sentence.

Dobbs’ defense attorney David Felsen said that his client was dealing with “significant mental health issues.” He told the judge Dobbs was receiving counseling, noting that he believes “incarceration would serve no useful purpose in this case.”

Sentencing has been set for Aug. 24.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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