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Press Release

Former CENTCOM Employee Pleads Guilty To Attempted Sexual Enticement Of A Child

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Orlando, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces today that Stephen Governale (49, Tampa) pleaded guilty to attempted enticement of a minor to engage in a sexual activity. Governale is facing a mandatory minimum of 10 years, up to life in federal prison. His sentencing hearing has been set for June 13, 2013. Governale was indicted on October 10, 2012.

Governale is a United States Air Force Reserve Lieutenant Colonel, who, at the time of his arrest, was a protocol officer at CENTCOM in Tampa. According to court documents, on September 11, 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was contacted by the parents of a 17-year-old child who was receiving sexually inappropriate messages from Governale. In an interview, the child victim explained meeting Governale through an organization affiliated with the military. The child victim stated that he had gone with Governale to conferences and had stayed in Governale’s hotel room. The victim also said that they had watched pornographic movies in the hotel room and engaged in sexual activity.

On September 21, 2012, as Governale was planning to travel to Central Florida for business, a Task Force Agent with the FBI assumed the child victim’s on-line identity. The agent began to communicate with Governale using FaceBook. In the FaceBook chats, Governale attempted to entice the child victim to engage in sexual activity. Governale arranged to meet the victim at a location in Central Florida. When Governale arrived, he was arrested by the FBI.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg.

It is another case 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 individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit For more information about internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab "resources."

Updated January 26, 2015