Affidavit reveals details leading to deputy’s arrest
A Matagorda County Sheriff’s deputy is accused of cyberstalking, according to a Massachusetts teenager who told investigators that he threatened to sexually assault her sister if she did not continue to comply with his demands, an FBI affidavit obtained by The Bay City Tribune states.
Deputy Pasquale T. “Gino” Salas, 25, was arrested on a stalking charge July 31 in Bay City and arraigned the next day in federal court in the Southern District of Texas in Galveston. He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Worcester at a later date, court records show.
Salas began pursuing the girl five years ago when she was 12, according to the affidavit.
Matagorda County Sheriff Frank “Skipper” Osborne said Salas has been a good employee of the sheriff’s department.
“He had been employed with us for three and a half years and been a great deputy, had nothing in his record, no discipline reports, nothing, he was just an outstanding deputy,” Osborne said during a news conference Aug. 1.
“They came in and made the arrest, it was actually the FBI from Boston that has the case on him and they had two or three FBIs from Texas City, who were also involved.
“We cooperated with the FBI in every way possible because we’re not going to stand in any way for a deputy that breaks the law. He is no better than anybody else; we’re here to enforce law, not to break law,” said Osborne. “As I said, this is a shock to our department and a very bad shock for me because I really thought the world of this boy, he was a young kid, 26 years old and a good deputy. We can kind of control them while they’re here, but when they go home and they’re off duty, I have really no control over it.”
The FBI from Boston worked with the FBI in Texas City, who arrested Salas, Osborne said.
The FBI began investigating Salas June 3 after the girl, now 17, met with law enforcement in Massachusetts and said a man named Salas had pursued her online and compelled her to send sexually explicit images of herself, according to the affidavit. Kimberly J. Lawrence, supervisory special agent for the FBI, led the investigation.
Salas, using the screen name “itryhardrobot,” first contacted her in 2014 through a private chat room while the two were playing the Minecraft video game, the teenager told police. The relationship with Salas, who told her he was 21, began as a friendship, but soon became more serious, with Salas expressing his love for her, she said, the affidavit shows.
In or around 2014, the girl said, Salas asked her to send pictures of herself without clothing and touching herself. Salas also asked her to send videos of herself, and would give her instructions on what to do in the videos, she said. Salas also sent her sexually explicit images of himself while they were communicating on Minecraft, the teenager told police.
Salas told her he was a police officer for the Matagorda County Sheriff’s Office in Texas and sent several photographs and videos of himself in a police cruiser, the document states. He also said he had people watching her and had surveillance on her home, according to the affidavit.
In addition to Mincraft, the two communicated through Snapchat, Skype, phone calls and text messaging, and she sent hundreds of sexually explicit images and videos of herself to Salas via the social media platforms, she said.
The girl told officers Salas has repeatedly sent gifts to her, including jewelry, Edible Arrangements and iTunes gift cards, and provided her with access to his Amazon Prime account.
Over time, Salas became increasingly controlling, requiring her to provide him with her login credentials to her social media accounts, which the teenager believed he would use to monitor her online activity, including her conversations with other males, she said. He also required the girl to set her Snapchat settings so he could monitor her location via GPS, she told investigators.
In or around 2016, the teenager said, Salas threatened to reveal her sexually explicit images to her friends and family if she did not send more pictures, according to the affidavit. He also threatened to publish her nude images if she changed her social media passwords or deactivated the location function on her Snapchat account, she told police.
Salas also threatened to physically harm her and sexually assault her sister if she did not obey his directions, the girl told investigators.
During the course of the online relationship, the girl told investigators, Salas introduced two men and another underage girl into their conversations.
Salas ordered the girl to send nude images of herself to the two men, Levi and Johnny, who he identified as friends, and threatened to send her naked images to her friends and family if she did not comply, the affidavit states. The girl sent sexually explicit images to Levi, she said.
Both Johnny and Levi told the girl they were watching her and would report back to Salas, the document states.
The teenager also participated in multi-user chats on Minecraft and Snapchat with Salas and another girl she knows, the teenager said. Based on their conversations, the teenager believes the other girl was 11 when she began communicating with Salas and also sent him sexually explicit images, according to the affidavit. That girl is now 15, and the teenager believes she and Salas remain in contact.
Attempts by the teenager to end the relationship began in and around 2016, she told investigators, but were unsuccessful because Salas repeatedly threatened to expose the explicit photos.
The teenager struggled to lead a normal life because of fears of the photos becoming public and Salas’s late-night phone calls that required she stay on the phone for hours, she told investigators.
In or around May, the affidavit states, the teenager again tried to end contact with Salas, telling him her parents knew everything and to stop contacting her, but Salas persisted. She then blocked him from her social media accounts and blocked his cellphone number, she said.
Investigators identified Salas based on information he provided to the teenager, according to the affidavit. He told the girl his full name was Pasquale Theodore Salas, he lived in Texas with his sister and her three children and he was a police officer. The teenager also saw his face, heard his voice and saw what she believed to be bedroom when they communicated on Skype.
In June 2019, the Matagorda County Sheriff’s Office verified that Pasquale Salas was employed as a patrol officer.