Pikeville man sentenced in human trafficking case

A Pikeville man has been sentenced in a federal human trafficking case.

According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice, Ernest Ray, 56, of Pikeville, was sentenced Monday to 156 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell. Ray pleaded guilty in June 2019 to five counts of recruiting, enticing, harboring, providing, and maintaining minors to engage in commercial sexual acts.

According to the justice department, Ray admitted that he provided five minors alcohol, cigarettes, money, and marijuana in exchange for the minors engaging in sexual acts in front of him. He also admitted that, on numerous occasions, he drove the minors to a rural location for the purpose of having them engage in these sexual acts, the department of justice said, with some of the sexual acts also taking place at his residence.

Ray must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, per federal law, and will then have to submit supervision upon his release, the department of justice said. He will also have to pay a penalty of $60,000.

Ray was first arrested by United States Marshals in the case in March 2019.

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