GREENEVILLE — A 40-year-old Johnson City man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Wednesday for taking a 13-year-old girl to North Carolina and having sex with her.
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer sentenced Gary Keith to 120 months in prison Wednesday and ordered him to be on supervised release for life. Greer ordered Keith to participate in a sex offender treatment program while incarcerated at the federal prison in Butner, N.C.
The 10-year prison sentence is the mandatory minimum, and Keith will have to serve the entire amount before being released. Keith faced a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Initially, Keith was indicted on three charges — kidnapping, transporting a minor across state lines to engage in criminal sexual activity, and transporting a minor across state lines to engage in any sexual activity that would be a violation of federal law.
Keith pleaded guilty in September 2009 to the second count, while the remaining two charges were dismissed on Wednesday.
According to the plea agreement, Keith transported a 13-year-old girl from Johnson City to North Carolina on June 2, 2009. Keith told authorities he did this to get the girl pregnant and to start a family. While in North Carolina, Keith had sexual intercourse with the girl on numerous occasions.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Whittemore said the girl did not get pregnant.
The child was found based on a tip received through the Johnson City Police Department’s use of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s missing child Web site.
The JCPD relayed the information to the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina, which used the information to find the girl and to apprehend Keith in Hickory, N.C.
Keith had a prior criminal record, but that did not include child or sexual crimes, said Whittemore.
Keith’s son, sister and stepfather wrote letters to Greer providing background information on Keith and asking for leniency in the sentencing.