(CNN)A New York City education official is facing child pornography charges after federal officials say he planned to meet with an undercover agent he thought was a 14-year-old boy.
A New York education official was arrested on child pornography charges in Wisconsin
David A. Hay, 39, was arrested December 29 on charges of using a computer to attempt to persuade, induce, or entice a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity and possession of child pornography, according to a news release from the US Attorney's Office. He faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted on the enticement charge and up to 10 years if convicted on the child pornography charge.
At the time of his arrest, Hay was deputy chief of staff to New York City Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza, according to CNN affiliate WBAY-TV. He was fired after the arrest, the New York Times reported.
CNN has reached out to the education department, but has not heard back. Before joining the New York education department, Hay had been a teacher and principal at two high schools in Wisconsin.
Hay began messaging Craig M. Hoffer, an undercover investigator with the Neenah Police Department in Wisconsin, on July 3, 2019, according to a criminal complaint. Neenah is about 40 miles southwest of Green Bay.
Hay messaged Hoffer believing he was a 14-year-old boy named Colton, the complaint states. The two were using a dating app called Grindr.
Hoffer says the first message he received from Hay read "Into daddies?" Hoffer then told Hay he was 14 and Hay replied "Yea I'm good w that," according to the complaint.
After exchanging messages on Grindr, Hay and the undercover agent switched to text messaging app TextNow, the complaint states.
Hoffer says they exchanged messages for months, and that he verified that the phone number he was texting was Hay's and that Hay's pictures in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation database matched the pictures in the text and on Grindr.
On December 9, Hay, who lives in New York, texted that he was visiting Wisconsin at the end of the month. The undercover officer then asked if the two could stay in a hotel, to which Hay said yes, the complaint said.
Hay made the reservation, but the complaint says he backed out an encounter citing family issues.
The complain also says Hay said he was "a bit scared" and also referred to their age difference.
The officer called the hotel the two were supposed to meet at on December 28, and the reservation listed all of Hay's contact information, the complaint said.
After obtaining a search warrant, Hoffer looked through Hay's phone where he found the fake pictures of "Colton" he sent to Hay. The agent also found sexually explicit photos from 2015 of a boy who did not appear to be 18 years old, the complaint said.
That individual told the officer he did not send the pictures when he was a minor but might have as an adult.
Jonathan Smith, Hay's attorney, told CNN affiliate WBAY-TV the complaint does not suggest his client ever tried to meet with anyone.
"There's certainly references to conversations he purportedly had with someone who was purporting to be someone who was underage, whether that was reasonable to believe or not is something we'll have to explore," Smith said.
Hay appeared in federal court in Green Bay on Friday. He was released to live with his parents on home detention. Hay will be subject to electronic monitoring, WBAY reported.
Hay's next court appearance is scheduled for January 14.
Before he served as the deputy chief of staff in New York, Hay was a principal at two schools in Wisconsin, according to CNN affiliate WFRV-TV.
Kettle Moraine School District Superintendent Patricia Deklotz told WFRV Hay was hired as a business and marketing teacher in 2005.
"He served as a high school principal from 2008 until 2011," she said in a statement. In 2011, she said Hay didn't have the necessary license to continue holding his position and it was found that he used a district credit card for personal purchases.
Hay then served as the principal of Tomah High School from 2011 to 2014. He resigned to pursue a doctorate at Harvard, district superintendent Cindy Zahrte told WFRV.