U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Government Website

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Safely connect using HTTPS

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  2. News Room
  3. South Dakota Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Federal Prison for Sex Trafficking a Minor

South Dakota Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Federal Prison for Sex Trafficking a Minor Using the Internet

Release Date: April 24, 2024

RAPID CITY, S.D. — U.S. Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced April 12 that U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier has sentenced a Rapid City 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.

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

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

Heath was apprehended in January 2023, when he traveled to a Rapid City parking lot to have sex with someone he believed was a 14-year-old girl. In reality, he met an undercover Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) St. Paul special agent. Forensic analysis of Heath’s cellphone 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 (DOJ). 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.

This case was investigated by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, HSI St. Paul, the 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.

HSI St. Paul oversees suboffices in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Members of the public can report crimes and suspicious activity 24/7 by calling the HSI tip line at 877-4-HSI-TIP.

Learn more about HSI’s mission to increase public safety in your community on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @HSISaintPaul.

Last Updated: 04/24/2024
Was this page helpful?
This page was not helpful because the content