Thomas Austin Monti

The conviction of Thomas Austin Monti, a former Uber driver , was the result of an undercover FBI operation.

A Murfreesboro, Tenn., man who drove to Henrico County last year believing he was going to meet children was sentenced to 16 years in prison Wednesday for coercing or enticing a juvenile to engage in sex.

Thomas Austin Monti, 73, a former educator in Tennessee, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson. He had faced a prison term of up to life, but a plea agreement recommended a term of 15 to 18 years. In addition to the 16 years in prison, Hudson imposed 10 years of supervised release.

Monti’s conviction was the result of an undercover operation by the FBI Richmond Division’s Child Exploitation Task Force, targeting people willing to travel to engage in sexual conduct with a minor.

Investigators posed as adult intermediaries — in Monti’s case as the 42-year-old Richmond aunt of nieces ages 6 and 10 years old — online and responded to people who indicated a desire to meet with children.

According to court documents, Monti, a former Uber driver, arrived at a restaurant on Brook Road on Oct. 3 with candy for one of the girls, massage oil and sex toys, believing he was going to meet the girls’ aunt. Instead, he was greeted by FBI agents and was taken into custody.

Monti was initially charged with crossing state lines with intent to engage in sexual activity with a person under the age of 12.

In court documents, Monti’s lawyer, Carolyn Grady, asked Hudson for a term of 15 years, citing among other things his cooperation with authorities after his arrest and his guilty plea.

Grady told Hudson that Monti grew up in an abusive and neglectful household and was sexually abused by a brother-in-law. He served as a U.S. Navy corpsman in Vietnam and was wounded by shrapnel and has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and depression.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Fishel asked Hudson to impose an 18-year prison term in a sentencing memorandum.

“That a 72-year-old man would drive ten hours for the purpose of extensively sexually abusing a six-year-old girl and a ten-year-old girl — while using metal tools and sex objects no less — smacks of criminal abuse, immorality and indecency in the least, and frankly wants for adequate characterization,” wrote Fishel.

Fishel reported that Monti had a 35-year career as a science teacher, administrator, athletic coach and assistant principal that ended in 2005 when he was indicted by a grand jury in Ohio for 15 counts of sexual battery on a 14-year-old girl who lived with him in foster care in 2004.

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