Former pharmacy tech arrested in sex sting found guilty

St. Johns County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Matthew Caniff
St. Johns County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Matthew Caniff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 33-year-old Gainesville man arrested in a St. Johns County sex sting last year was found guilty by a federal jury of attempted online enticement of a minor child to engage in illegal sexual activity, online solicitation of child pornography, and attempted production of child pornography, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday. 

On the attempted online enticement count, Matthew Bryan Caniff faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years to life in prison. He also faces a minimum of 15 years to 30 years of imprisonment each on the solicitation and the attempted production charges. 

Prior to his arrest, Caniff had worked as a pharmacy technician at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 26.

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According to testimony and evidence introduced during the trial, from March 31 through April 1, Caniff engaged in a series of text conversations over the internet with a person he believed to be a 13-year-old child.  The "child" was actually an undercover FBI agent.  During the course of these online conversations, Caniff discussed his desire to have sex with the “child” in detail. He also made several requests for the “child” to send him images engaging in sexually explicit conduct. 

In the early morning hours of April 1, 2016, Caniff drove from his residence in Gainesville to a residence in St. Johns County to meet the “child” for sex.  He was arrested at the meeting location by St. Johns County sheriff's deputies.  A search of his person revealed that Caniff had brought with him a plastic bag containing several prescription pills that he had taken from UF Health Shands Hospital and intended to share with the “child” during their planned sexual encounter.