SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Citrus County man was sentenced to life in prison after an underage sex sting conducted by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Florida State Attorney Ed Brodsky announced Thursday.

William Heagney was one of 23 people arrested by the sheriff’s office during Operation Intercept VII in 2019.

On June 23 he was convicted of with traveling to seduce, solicit or entice a child to commit a sex act, use of a computer to seduce, solicit or entice a child to commit a sex act, attempted lewd and lascivious battery (victim 12 or older but less than 16) and 88 counts of transmission of material harmful to minors.

The lifetime prison sentence came at a hearing Wednesday.

“Traveler operations, like Intercept VII, save children from online predators like this defendant,” Assistant State Attorney Kate Metz said. “A man with a history of committing sexual abuse on children. A man who sent 88 images of pornography to a child to convince her to engage in sexual activities with him. These predators exist, and the only way to find them and hold their criminal conduct accountable is through the use of these covert operations.”

The sting operation conducted by the sheriff’s office found Heagney tried to engage in sexual conduct with what he thought was a 14-year-old child but was actually an undercover detective.

Between Sept. 18 and Sept. 21 he sent the child 88 images of pornography to the child “to entice or encourage her to engage in sexual conduct with him.”

Heagney was 45 at the time the crimes were committed but told the child he was 41. Officials said even after the child said she was only 14 several times during conversations with Heagney, he continued the conversation.

Officials said he drove two hours from Crystal River to a Home Depot in Sarasota, where he parked his truck then rode his bike to a decoy house and was immediately arrested when he got there.