– A law enforcement officer from Texas pleaded guilty today in federal
court in Worcester to sexual exploitation of a minor and cyberstalking
Pasquale T. Salas, 26, a/k/a Gino, a former deputy sheriff with the
Matagorda County Sheriff’s Office, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual
exploitation of a minor and one count of cyberstalking. U.S. District
Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled sentencing for Sept. 3, 2020.
Salas met the victim through an online video game website in 2014,
when the minor was 12 years old. Salas and the girl communicated on a
private chat room and then moved those communications to various other
platforms, including text messaging, Skype and Snapchat. Salas
repeatedly solicited the minor to transmit sexually explicit images and
videos of herself.
Beginning as early as 2016, Salas intimidated the victim into
maintaining contact with him and sending additional sexually explicit
material by threatening that he would send the minor’s sexually explicit
images and videos to her family and her friends. In May 2019, when the
victim attempted to terminate contact with Salas, he repeatedly sent
threatening communications to the victim, using web-based applications
to disguise the source of the communications.
At the time of his arrest, Salas’ smartphone was seized by
investigators and found to contain at least one video, sent via social
media, of the minor performing sexually explicit acts that Salas had
coerced her to perform.
Salas admitted to contacting a second Massachusetts minor through the
same website. From the time she was 12 until the time she was 16, he
coerced her into remaining in contact with him and solicited sexually
explicit images from her. Salas forced her to disclose her social media
credentials so that he could track her activities and view her
photographs. Salas sent pictures of himself inside a police car and with
a gun and told the second victim that he had law enforcement friends in
Massachusetts who would follow her and that no one would believe her if
she reported what he had done. Salas was in contact with her until the
time of his arrest.
Members of the public who have questions, concerns, or information
about this case should contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at
The charge of sexual exploitation of a minor provides for mandatory
minimum sentence of 15 years and up to 30 in prison, a minimum of five
years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
The charge of cyberstalking provides for a sentence of up to five years
in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to
$250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based
on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph R. Bonavolonta,
Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston
Field Division made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was
provided by Police Departments in Worcester County; the United States
Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas; the Federal Bureau
of Investigation, Houston Field Office; the Matagorda (Texas) County
Sheriff’s Office; and the Worcester Police Department. Assistant U.S.
Attorney Kristen Noto from Lelling’s Worcester Branch Office is
prosecuting the case.
The case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the
Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide
initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led
by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and
Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and
local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who
exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more
information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.