Schools worker snared in sting
2 men accused of trying to have sex with girl, 14
Two men, including a longtime School District 51 employee, have been arrested on suspicion of attempting to have sex with someone they thought was a 14-year-old girl.
John Patrick Pomaski, 48, of Grand Junction, and David Shawn Prephan II, 25, who recently moved to Mesa County from Ohio, were arrested less than three hours apart Friday night in conjunction with an Internet sex sting conducted by the FBI, the Western Colorado Drug Task Force and the Grand Junction Police Department.
Pomaski, who has worked for District 51 for 22 years, was placed on paid administrative leave on Monday, District 51 spokeswoman Christy McGee said. For the past three years, he has worked as a grant writer and in dropout retrieval for the district, McGee said, noting he had no contact with students during that time.
Prior to that, Pomaski was the coordinator of District 51’s English Language Learners program in 2010-11 and worked in the English as a Second Language program, initially at Wingate Elementary School and then at the district level for 19 years. His first job in the district was as a teacher at Bookcliff Middle School in 1992, McGee said.
A message left for Pomaski wasn’t immediately returned.
Pomaski is at least the fourth District 51 employee to be investigated by law enforcement in the last seven months for having inappropriate contact with young females. All but one were arrested and prosecuted.
According to an arrest affidavit, Pomaski responded to an Internet advertisement for a 19-year-old woman Friday evening and spent a couple of hours talking and texting with an undercover police officer acting as the woman. During the conversation, the undercover officer identified herself as a 14-year-old girl who was staying at a hotel in the 2700 block of Crossroads Boulevard. The two texted pictures to each other before Pomaski began describing sexual acts he wanted to perform on the officer. He then accepted her offer to meet her at her motel room.
Officers conducting surveillance observed Pomaski drive into the hotel parking lot. The undercover officer told Pomaski to come up to her room but he refused and later told her he would pick her up and take her back to his place, the affidavit said.
Eventually, Pomaski left the area and texted the officer that he thought she had bailed on him. He then asked her to text a picture of her genitals and refused to come up to the room until he received the picture, the affidavit said.
Officers later stopped Pomaski’s truck on Orchard Mesa and arrested him. In an interview with police, Pomaski said he knew the purported girl was 14 and admitted to asking for a lewd picture from her and describing sex acts with her, the affidavit said.
Hours later, an undercover officer working out of the same hotel was contacted by a man — later identified as Prephan — who wanted to have sex with a 14-year-old girl. Prephan asked for two photos of the girl and agreed to pay $80 to have sex with her, according to a second arrest affidavit.
The undercover officer gave Prephan the address and room number of the hotel where he could meet the officer and the 14-year-old girl. Prephan showed up at 11:15 p.m. and agreed to give the officer, who was acting as a pimp, half of the money upfront. Officers then entered the room and arrested Prephan. They searched his wallet and found the other $40 and two condoms, the affidavit said.
Pomaski and Prephan made their initial appearances in court Monday, where Pomaski was advised he could be charged with felony counts of Internet exploitation of a child and Internet luring of a child, and Prephan was advised he could be charged with felony counts of soliciting for child prostitution and Internet luring of a child.
Mesa County Judge Gretchen Larson granted Pomaski a $50,000 personal-recognizance bond at the request of District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, though Hautzinger said he didn’t make that recommendation “without misgivings.” Even though Pomaski has no criminal history in Mesa County, Hautzinger said he was “somewhat concerned” by the fact that Pomaski works for District 51.
Prephan was ordered held on a $25,000 secured bond after Hautzinger noted that Prephan moved to Mesa County just three months ago after living in Ohio for 21 years.
The arrests of Pomaski and Prephan were part of a broad federal investigation into human trafficking and child prostitution across the nation that also resulted in the raid of four Grand Junction massage parlors last week and arrest of the owners of one of those businesses.