Hay indicted, could face 99 years in prison
By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor
After being indicted by a Bandera County Grand Jury, former businessman Nathan "Nat" Hay, 41, faces a trio of felony charges - and a lengthy prison sentence if convicted. On Tuesday, April 8, the grand jury true billed Hay for manufacture and delivery of over 400 grams of a Penalty Group 1 controlled substance, possession of chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine and child endangerment.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered evidence of guilt. Hay is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
However, if convicted, Hay faces a maximum of 99 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 for the first-degree felony drug possession charge. Possession of drug-making supplies is a second-degree felony and child endangerment is a state jail felony.
Hay's first arrest in conjunction with the current charges occurred at approximately 3:30 am, on March 24. At that time, Deputy Marshal Earl Heidelberg stopped a motorist on Highway 173 South for reckless driving. The female juvenile at the wheel of the Suburban turned out to be Hay's 14-year-old stepdaughter. Meanwhile, Hay, owner of the now-defunct Bandera Computers, was purportedly unconscious in the backseat of the vehicle during the traffic stop. According to law enforcement reports, a syringe filled with clear fluid was in view on the backseat next to a center console.
Additionally, reports indicated that the teenager seemed to be under the influence at the time of the traffic stop. Later, law enforcement officers discovered she had what is suspected to be narcotics in her backpack. According to Bandera Chief Deputy Scott MacNaughton, charges may be brought against the juvenile at a later date.
In addition, subsequent information indicated that, at the time of the traffic stop, Hay and his stepdaughter had allegedly been returning from Center Point where Hay had been in contact with a person whom Bandera Marshal James "Charlie" Hicks later described as a "known drug dealer."
Deputies with the Bandera County Sheriff's Office responded to Heidelberg's call for assistance. After regaining consciousness, Hay reportedly became agitated and refused to give officers consent to search the vehicle.
After a search warrant was obtained, BCSO Sgt. Gerald "Jerry" Johnson arrived with a K-9 dog trained to detect the presence of drugs. In short order, the dog alerted to drugs in the vehicle, which gave officers probable cause to search the vehicle. "The dog alerted to drugs almost before he was let off the leash," Hicks explained. The marshal had arrived on the scene at 4 am.
Officers discovered a cache in the rear back quarter panel of the Suburban. Inventoried items included a hot plate, a blue bag filled with a clear, crystal-like substance, four glass jars, a substance that resembled marijuana, stove fuel and tubing and precursors to methamphetamine production such as iodine and ephedrine, as well as a respirator, among other items. To veteran law enforcement officers, the discovered stash resembled a mobile meth lab.
According to reports, law enforcement officers contacted CPS during the traffic stop, but the female juvenile was eventually released into the custody of her mother.
The next day, Hicks again contacted personnel with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services about the incident. "I haven't heard anything regarding the CPS investigation and don't expect to," he said in an interview on April 14. "So I filed separate felony child endangerment charges on Mr. Hay." Hay was arrested again on April 2. The bond amount for the trio of felony arrests is $80,000.
Currently, the 14-year-old female, as well as her two siblings, still reside with Hay and his wife, the children's mother, in the Wharton's Dock area. Some in the community have expressed concern that the children remain with Hay.
In a typical Catch-22 situation, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services indicated the agency continues to monitor the case, but declined further comment because the teen is not in state custody.
After the indictments came down, an arrest warrant was issued for Hay. According to BCSO Chief Deputy Matt King, Hay was served with the indictments and remains free on the original $80,000 bonds.