CATLETTSBURG A 30-year-old Sandy Hook man will spend two and a half years in prison for being caught up last year in an online sting operation by the Ashland Police Department.

Boyd County Circuit Judge John Vincent sentenced Matthew Gilliam Thursday, sticking with the recommendation offered by the Commonwealth in his plea agreement. In addition to the prison term, Gilliam will also have to serve a five-year post-release supervision and register as a sex offender.

Gilliam pleaded guilty in December 2019 to a single count of unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sexual or other prohibited activities. The charge is a class D felony, carrying with it between one and five years in prison.

Police reports from the case read like something from NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” — without the camera crews.

Investigators opened an account on a dating app in May 2019, posing as a 14-year-old girl. The same day, Gilliam messaged the account asked an officer if he “can handle an old pervert.” Over the course of several months, Gilliam sent multiple messages to the account, despite no reply.

Even though Gilliam was “ghosted” — internet lingo for not receiving replies in an online chat — he persisted. The police reports show Gilliam told the undercover officer in late August he was in the area and he would like to meet up for sex. Police provided Gilliam a phone number to call and an officer posed as the would-be victim. Records show they set a meeting for Labor Day 2019 at the King’s Daughter Medical Center parking garage.

Multiple times Gilliam voiced concern about the meeting being a set-up.

“I stated that I was only 14, how could I be a cop?” an officer wrote in an affidavit.

After spotting Gilliam’s F-150 near the garage, Ashland Police Chief Todd Kelley pulled him over near Central Park, the affidavit states.

Before pronouncing the sentence Thursday, Vincent allowed Gilliam to make a statement to the court. On the edge of tears, Gilliam said he was “sorry for what I’ve done.”

(606) 326-2653 |

henry@dailyindependent.com

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