Boardman music teacher facing drug charges caught in sex sting

BOARDMAN — A Boardman teacher arrested on drug charges last weekend was caught in a sting conducted by the Mahoning County Human Trafficking Task Force.

The man arrested alongside him has a history of sex crime convictions.

Boardman Local Schools announced Monday that Robert Pavalko, 44, of Youngstown, a music teacher at Boardman High School and Boardman Center Intermediate School, is on paid administrative leave after he was arrested Saturday on charges of drug possession and permitting drug abuse. A Tuesday report in The Vindicator incorrectly stated that he worked at Boardman Elementary School. According to the district treasurer’s office, Pavalko’s salary for the school year is just over $75,000.

Jerry Allen, commander of the task force, said Pavalko was arrested alongside Logan Larlham, 26. The arrest occurred in East Palestine. Booking documents show an address on East Judson Avenue in Youngstown, but Allen said Larlham, a Tier-2 sex offender, lived in Boardman and failed to register with the township, which led to a warrant being issued for his arrest.

Allen said a task force agent in Columbiana County, acting undercover, posted on a known prostitution website. The post was not intended to target Larlham specifically, but officials allege he is the one who responded.

“He was aware that females in the sex-for-hire industry are oftentimes drug addicted,” Allen said. “When we started conversing with him, he asked [the person he believed to be a prostitute] to come to the motel in Boardman where he was staying, and offered to get her a room to conduct her business in exchange for her sending people to him to buy drugs.”

Allen said Larlham said he would come with his driver to pick up the woman and they would bring her methamphetamines. Allen said Pavalko was Larlham’s driver.

When the men arrived at the agreed-upon location in East Palestine, task force members, including East Palestine police, arrested them.

Pavalko was video arraigned Monday in Columbiana Municipal Court before Judge Katelyn Dickey on one count of felony drug possession and one count of permitting drug abuse — a first-degree misdemeanor. Court Records indicate he pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance with a $5,000 cash or surety bond and a preliminary hearing set for May 2.

Court records show Larlham is charged with three felony counts – attempting to promote prostitution, drug possession, and possession of criminal tools. He made an initial appearance Monday in Columbiana Municipal Court before Judge Timothy McNicol, who imposed a $10,000 cash or surety bond, which Larlham could not meet. McNicol sent him to the county jail, where he remains until his preliminary hearing Monday.

Allen said the investigation is ongoing, and both men could face additional charges. He said the task force’s arrests often lead to surprises.

“A lot of times it’s just regular prostitution, and a lot of times you also get a surprise like this. with someone with an open warrant, and drug possession, and in this case they were with someone who was a respected member of the community. You never know who or what these investigations will turn up,” he said.

Larlham was first arrested in May 2017 for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Records from Stow Municipal Court show that he lived on Longcoy Avenue in Kent at the time he was charged with three misdemeanor counts. Those charges were merged into one, to which he pleaded guilty on Sept. 6, 2017. Judge Lisa Coates sentenced Larlham to 180 days with 138 suspended, and he ultimately served only 12 days in Macedonia Jail, and was ordered to have no contact with the victim or other minors.

In February 2018, he was ordered not to violate certain terms of his probation any further, but on May 15 was ordered back to Glenwood Jail for 138 days for repeated violations. However, Coates ordered him released in August of that year.

He was arrested on the same charge in Ravenna on Jan. 8, 2020, this time for a felony count. Allen said Larlham allowed a 15-year-old runaway to stay at his home and had sexual contact with her while she was there.

On June 9, 2020 Judge Becky Doherty sentenced him to 36 months at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Facility on Hubbard Road. Records show he served most of it, and his five-year parole began Jan. 7, 2023. His sentencing terms state that parole violations could land him back in jail for up to 6 months.

The Mahoning County Human Trafficking Task Force is led by Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and includes resources from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, New Waterford Police Department, Cortland Police Department, Austintown Police Department, Youngstown Police Department, the Ohio Investigative Unit and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Have an interesting story? Contact Dan Pompili at dpompili@vindy.com


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