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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Acoma Pueblo Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Child Sexual Abuse Conviction

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Project Safe Childhood

ALBUQUERQUE – Michael Paul Cerno, 38, a member and resident of Acoma Pueblo, N.M., was sentenced this morning in federal court in Santa Fe, N.M., to 65 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for his child sexual abuse conviction.  Cerno will be required to register as a sex offender after completing his prison sentence.

Cerno was arrested on Aug. 22, 2014, on a criminal complaint charging him with sexually abusing a 14-year-old Acoma Pueblo girl in July 2011.  According to the complaint, Cerno got the victim intoxicated before violating her.  Federal law enforcement authorities initiated the investigation leading to Cerno’s arrest in March 2014.

Cerno was indicted in June 2014, charged with sexually abusing the victim in July 2011 in Acoma Pueblo in Cibola County, N.M.  He pled guilty to the indictment on Nov. 19, 2014, and admitted sexually assaulting the victim in July 2011 at a time when the victim was physically incapable of declining to engage in a sexual act because she was intoxicated.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI, the Laguna/Acoma Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services, and the Acoma Pueblo Tribal Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Adams as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated September 8, 2015