A Payson man who worked for the state Game and Fish Department has resigned after police arrested him for reportedly soliciting sex from an underage girl in the Verde Valley.
Officers arrested a 45-year-old man at an area fish hatchery where he lived and worked Oct. 27 on charges of luring a minor for sex, sending harmful material to a minor through the Internet and aggravated luring a minor for sexual exploitation, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office. It is the Roundup’s policy not to reveal names in sex crimes cases until after a conviction.
Since August, officers had secretly watched the man’s online chats with who he believed was a 13-year-old girl living in the Verde Valley area.
The man reportedly sent explicit pictures, video and text describing various sexual acts.
On Oct. 26, the man drove a Game and Fish vehicle to a park near the girl’s home to meet up with her. When the suspect could not find the girl at the park, he got back in his work vehicle and left.
An officer then stopped the suspect’s car, got a copy of his driver’s license and let him go. Using his driver’s license photo, detectives confirmed the man was the same person reportedly seen in the video soliciting the girl for sex, officials said. Officers arrested the man at the Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery and he was booked in to the Gila County Jail. The man posted a $25,000 bond and was released.
Game and Fish initially put its employee on administrative leave following the arrest, but the employee has since resigned.