United States Attorney's Office for the District of South Dakota

04/12/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/12/2024 13:24

Rapid City Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Federal Prison

Press Release

Rapid City Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Federal Prison

Friday, April 12, 2024
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

RAPID CITY - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced today that U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier has sentenced a Rapid City, South Dakota, man convicted of Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud, or Coercion and Enticement of a Minor Using the Internet. The sentencing took place on April 8, 2024.

Johnny Ray Heath, 52, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison on each charge, lifetime supervised release, and ordered to pay a $200 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund and restitution of $3,000 to each of the two victims. The prison sentences are to be served concurrently.

Heath was indicted for the charges by a federal grand jury in March of 2023. He pleaded guilty on December 15, 2023.

Heath was apprehended in January of 2023, when he traveled to a Rapid City parking lot to have sex with who he believed was a 14-year-old girl, when, in reality, the girl was an undercover Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent. Forensic analysis of Heath's cell phone and other devices also revealed that he coerced his victims into engaging in sex with him by offering and providing them with alcohol, vapes, marijuana, money, and other things of value or to which they were addicted. Heath recorded himself sexually abusing his victims while they were unconscious or highly intoxicated.

"This case demonstrates the impact of undercover sex sting operations conducted by law enforcement in South Dakota," said U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Alison J. Ramsdell. "The publicity generated by the arrest of Johnny Heath led a local victim to come forward after she learned of his arrest through the media. A second victim disclosed Heath's abuse of her shortly thereafter. Perpetrators like Heath pose a grave threat to young children in our community, and he has earned every single day of his 40-year sentence."

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the DOJ's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psc.

This case was investigated by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Pennington County Sheriff's Office, and the Rapid City Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Knox prosecuted the case.

Heath was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Updated April 12, 2024
Project Safe Childhood