Longtime Tampa Bay sports broadcaster Justin Pawlowski, who spent years on local sports talk radio and broadcast from Bulls and Bucs football games, was arrested Wednesday on charges that he tried to solicit a 14-year-old boy.
Pawlowski, 37, faces charges of charges of transmitting harmful material to a minor, using a computer device to solicit a minor and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. The arrest was made on Hillsborough County charges.
He was taken into custody at his St. Petersburg home and booked into the Pinellas County jail at 8:54 a.m. Wednesday, records show. He was freed more than eight hours later after posting $6,000 bail.
Pawlowski first contacted the 14-year-old — it was actually an undercover Tampa police officer — in a chatroom on Feb. 15, according to the arrest report. The chatroom was entitled "Tampa Teens 14-18." The 37-year-old repeatedly texted who be believed to be a 14-year-old through March 1, police said, and sent an explicit photo of himself.
"The defendant also expressed interest in meeting with the child on several occasions," police said, to engage in sexual acts. Pawlowski was told several times that he was communicating with a 14-year-old, the report said. Once, Pawlowski asked the child to leave his home and walk down the street so that they could meet.
When officers talked to Pawlowski, they said he admitted to messaging and chatting with who he believed to be a 14-year-old. Police obtained a search warrant for his phone and said they found the explicit photo he had sent of himself and stored in his contacts was the name and number of the fictitious 14-year-old police had created.
Pawlowski was an offensive lineman at Tampa Catholic High School who signed to play football for the University of Connecticut in 2000. He returned to Tampa to finish his degree at the University of South Florida and start his broadcasting career, according to his online bio. He became known as "The Commish" while broadcasting about fantasy football.
He worked at sports radio station WDAE-AM 620, going from promotions to executive producer to hosting his own show, his bio said. In 2007 he started working as the pre- and post-game radio show host for football games on the Bulls Radio Network until 2017. In 2011 he went to work for the Buccaneers Radio Network for two seasons.
Most recently, Pawlowski produced his own podcast, Bucs Uncensored, which aired on JoeBucsFan.com. However, JoeBucsFan.com said he has never been an employee there and oversaw the sponsorship deals for his own podcast. His latest episode, No. 392, was about the NFL draft and posted Wednesday, the day of his arrest.
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Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird and staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report. Contact Jamal Thalji at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @jthalji.