Four Arrested In Sullivan County As Fight Against Sex Trafficking Continues

Photo: Michael Alverson, Ronnie Gilliam, Kenneth Kotowski, and Matthew Bailey. Photo Credit: TBI

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Four men were arrested in Sullivan County and now face human trafficking charges.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says the four were arrested during a two-day undercover operation. The operation was organized and implemented by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department, the office of 2nd District Attorney General Barry Staubus in Sullivan County, Homeland Security, and the TBI’s Human Trafficking Unit.

As a part of the operation, TBI placed a number of fake advertisements on websites that are known to be connected to prostitution and commercial sex operations. The target of the investigation was to identify individuals who were seeking out minors in order to engage in sexual activity with them.

According to a news release from the TBI, “Over a two-day period beginning Nov. 4, as part of an undercover investigation aimed at addressing human trafficking in Northeast Tennessee, authorities placed several decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to prostitution and commercial sex cases.”

“The primary purpose of this operation was to identify those who prey on children and, in turn, support those who traffick them,” Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy said in a release. “I hope this collaborative effort with the TBI and District Attorney’s Office sends the message that we are always watching and will not tolerate those who victimize the most vulnerable in this community.”

The police made the following arrests in the operation. All four suspects were booked into the Sullivan County jail following those arrests.

  • Matthew David Bailey, 42, of Jonesborough: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor
  • Kenneth Paul Kotowski, 49, of Bristol, TN: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor
  • Ronnie Luther Gilliam, 63, of Duffield, VA: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor, Exploitation of a Minor
  • Michael William Alverson, 62, of Piney Flats: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor

This is the 12th similar operation conducted by the TBI, alongside local law enforcement agencies, in an effort to crackdown on these offenders and protect Tennessee children. Northeast Tennessee has seen a rise in arrests for human trafficking in recent months, but it continues to be a problem statewide.

“It is growing. It’s a growing challenge, it’s a growing issue and it’s something that we recognize that more needs to be done,” said TBI Director David Rausch.

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The TBI recently requested that their budget for their Human Trafficking department be increased so they could triple their personnel to help combat the problem.

TBI spokesperson Leslie Earhart noted that Tennessee is actually one of the states that is coming down the hardest on these individuals.

“Human Trafficking is a problem all across the U.S. You are hearing more about it in Tennessee because our state has some of the toughest laws in the country when it comes to trafficking. The operations focus on identifying and recovering potential victims of human trafficking as well as identifying those seeking to engage in commercial sex acts with minors. State leaders have also made combating the problem a priority,” said Earhart.


About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

2 thoughts on “Four Arrested In Sullivan County As Fight Against Sex Trafficking Continues

  • November 10, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    Well i guess that their Relatives and friends are happy to see their picture in the News—Seems to be a lot of Pervs out there in My State. If Convicted, these pillars of the community need to have “PERV” tattooed on their forehead in 3″ Red Block Letters so everyone will know what made them News Worthy for the rest of their sorry lives..

  • November 10, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    Crimes against humanity……I think absolutely………the death penalty for sure!!! These sickos do not deserve a life on this earth. We the people want them stopped for good.


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