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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California


Australian Investigation Leads To Alturas Man; Sentenced Today To Nearly 20 Years In Prison For Child Pornography

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Michael Elliot Papac, 47, of Alturas, was sentenced today by United States District Judge John A. Mendez to 19 years and seven months in prison to be followed by a lifetime of serviced release for receipt and distribution of child pornography, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

This case was the product of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the Modoc County Sheriff’s Office and the Queensland Police Service in Australia. Assistant United States Attorney Josh F. Sigal prosecuted the case.

According to court documents, Papac was arrested on February 14, 2014, following a referral by the Queensland Police Service in Australia regarding the potential sexual abuse of a minor. A covert Internet investigator in Queensland come into contact with Papac on a Russian website known for being a source of child pornography.  back to Papac in Alturas. Papac had posted photos of a sleeping 8-year-old girl with her pajama top unbuttoned. He discussed his plan to sedate and molest her while she slept and to take and distribute photographs of the molestation. With the assistance of Australian police, HSI agents were able to trace Papac’s email to his residence in Alturas and arrest him before he was able to act on his plan. In addition, on at least three separate occasions between February 7, 2014, and February 10, 2014, he sent and received child pornography.

Papac pleaded guilty to the charges on June 24, 2014. He had been convicted in 2005 in Modoc County for lewd acts with a minor and had served six years in prison.

At sentencing, Judge Mendez noted that Papac “learned nothing” from his prior state prison term and explained that the defendant has “created and continues to create a danger to the public,” and that but for the “terrific” work of law enforcement, “further damage was not done” to the victim.

“This case shows the extraordinary level of collaboration among law enforcement agencies around the globe to combat the online sexual exploitation of children,” said Tatum King, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Francisco. “While the initial lead was uncovered on the other side of the world, owing to remarkable international cooperation and astute detective work, HSI special agents were able to locate this young girl and rescue her.  For that, we’re indebted to the efforts of the Queensland Police Service and, closer to home, to the Modoc County Sheriff’s Department.”

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit Click on the “resources” tab for information about Internet safety education.

Press Release Number: 
Docket #: 2:14-CR-088 JAM
Updated April 8, 2015