Federal sentencing scheduled for Feb. 18
Charles E. “Chuck” Hustis III, a former Cold Spring trustee and mayoral candidate who was charged last year with the attempted enticement of a minor for sex, on Nov. 19 pleaded guilty to a lesser charge — attempted receipt of child pornography — as part of a deal reached with federal prosecutors. But he still faces years in prison.
Hustis, 37, was arrested in December 2019 by FBI agents in the Foodtown parking lot in Cold Spring, where they alleged he was waiting to meet a 16-year-old for sex. According to an investigator’s report, Hustis also solicited explicit photos from the teen via Facebook Messenger.
The child pornography charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for a defendant with no prior convictions, although in some circumstances prosecutors can ask for leniency. (Under federal sentencing guidelines, there is no distinction between the attempted or actual receipt of child pornography.) If Hustis had been convicted of the enticement charge, he faced a minimum sentence of 10 years.
Following his December arrest, Hustis was released on $150,000 bond and placed under home arrest with a monitoring device. The judge allowed Hustis to remain at his home under the same conditions until his sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 18. The government filed a forfeiture motion to keep his cellphone, which agents had seized.
Hustis, a 2002 Haldane graduate, served on the Village Board from 2010 to 2014 and also ran unsuccessfully for the Haldane school board in 2015. He challenged incumbent Mayor Dave Merandy last year.
According to the complaint filed with the court, the 16-year-old notified the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office after Hustis, over two days in December 2019, sent him sexually explicit photos and solicited him for sex. (The legal age of consent in New York State is 17.) The teen told police that, several years earlier, Hustis had been one of his substitute teachers at Haldane.
On Dec. 12, 2019, an FBI agent took over the teen’s Facebook account to communicate with Hustis while posing as the minor, according to the complaint. Hustis allegedly sent explicit photos to the account, as well as photos of his face, including one that also had been posted on his Facebook campaign page during his run for mayor.