January 9, 2020
Giuseppe Ricapito
Union Democrat

A Sonora man identified as a firefighter was arrested on Tuesday at the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office investigations office on Cedar Road in Sonora on suspicion of underage sex crimes.
An online tip was made to the Sheriff’s Office via the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a federally funded task force based in Sacramento, in December 2019 which initiated the investigation into the 53-year-old man arrested Tuesday, said Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Office Niccoli Sandelin.
Sandelin said the Sheriff’s Office would not disclose whether there was a victim in Tuolumne County, if the victim was known, or their gender.
“No further details will be released for the integrity of the case and future proceedings,” Sandelin said in an email.
Michael Pavao, of the 24000 block of North Bear Clover Court in Sonora, was booked into Tuolumne County Jail on suspicion of sexual exploitation of a minor and possession of child pornography, a Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office media release said.
According to Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office logs, a search warrant was served on North Bear Clover Court at 8:37 a.m. Tuesday.
Sandelin said the Sheriff’s Office would not comment on whether devices were confiscated from Pavao and what kind of content may be on them.
According to the booking logs, Pavao was booked into the jail at 12:14 p.m. The only charge listed in the booking logs is sexual exploitation of a child.
Sandelin said he did not know where Pavao was employed as a firefighter.
Pavao was booked on $10,000 bail and bailed out of custody on Tuesday, Sandelin said.
The ICAC Task Force consists of law enforcement officials from multiple agencies, including Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office detectives, Sandelin said.
He added that the office does not have any statistics available related to whether tips to the ICAC Task Force have resulted in arrests.

Message from Executive Director Laura A. Ahearn: Please visit our website at for news, information and resources in your community.

Follow on: