A former educator and public official in Cold Spring was arrested this week after allegedly attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.
Charles Hustis III, 36, was arrested Dec. 16 following an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.
According to a report filed Dec. 16 by FBI Special Agent Pao Mei Fisher and presented to U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith, Hustis used his Facebook Messenger account to send sexual images, including photographs of himself, to a 16-year-old male between Dec. 8 and 16, and arranging a meeting with the victim to “perform various sexual acts.”
Hustis is charged with one count of attempted enticement of a minor, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
According to Fisher’s report, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office notified the FBI earlier this month that it had information that a 16-year-old male had been contacted via Facebook Messenger by Hustis, who had previously served as the teen’s substitute teacher at Haldane Schools.
Hustis told the teen he was “getting hit on by sugar daddies all the time” while working at Foodtown, where he claimed to be a manager, states the report. He also indicated that he had seen the teen running on the school track team.
Subsequent communication from Hustis to the teen included “sexy boy” and “what do you wear under your running shorts? I wear thongs,” as well as explicit language asking the teen about sexual performance.
“I’m looking to find a hot boy to serve me and settle down with,” Hustis wrote the teen, according Fisher.
After the teen alerted law enforcement, Fisher began messaging Hustis, posing as the teen. Hustis continued to send photos of himself and “described a variety of sexual acts he wanted to engage in” with the teen, and “acknowledged his understanding” that the teen was a minor, according to the report.
Fisher arranged to meet Hustis in the Foodtown parking lot, where he was instead approached by law enforcement officers and admitted to his actions, according to the report.
FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney Jr. thanked the agents and detectives who worked this case for the speed with which they acted once they had the information regarding Hustis’ position as a substitute teacher.
“Predators who use their access to children for their own sexual gratification are a parent’s worst fear come true, and their actions can cause detrimental impacts on the victims,” he said.
Putnam Sheriff Robert Langley Jr. said this is another example of why all law enforcement agencies should continue to work together at the local and federal levels to better serve their communities.
“The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department looks forward to continuing our already good working relationship with the FBI and other federal agencies,” he said.
Hustis served on the Cold Spring Village Board for two terms, from 2010 to 2014, and ran for Haldane School Board in 2015 and for Cold Spring mayor this November. Although unsuccessful this year, Hustis apparently planned to continue to pursue a political career.
On Nov. 7 he posted the following message on a Facebook page titled Charles E. Hustis III for Mayor:
“Thank you to everyone for all your thoughts and support. I am in process of resting myself and beginning process of a much stronger and well funded mayoral campaign for 2021. I believe I’ve tapped into an electorate, even though I gathered 286 votes before absentees and the constructive criticism I’ve received has helped me see where I need to be stronger. Please keep on believing in a small village government where people look out for each other and I believe we will get to the promised Land.”
Anyone in the community who believes their child may have fallen victim to Hustis is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
The investigation is ongoing.