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Hastings wrestling coach, assistant principal McLay charged with embezzlement and theft

Hastings head wrestling coach and assistant principal Josh McLay has been charged with eight counts of embezzlement of public funds and eight counts of theft by swindle. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia

A Hastings High School assistant principal and head wrestling coach who allegedly misused donated funds was charged with multiple counts of embezzlement and theft of public funds on Tuesday.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Josh McLay, 37, has been charged with eight counts of embezzlement of public funds and eight counts of theft by swindle over the alleged theft of over $13,900 for entertainment purposes from 2011 to 2018, according to a county attorney press release.

Backstrom alleged that McLay at times spent over $2,500 on trips that were supposed to be for coaching clinics, but instead were used for college football games and other personal expenses.

PREVIOUSLY: Hastings wrestling coach investigated for misappropriation of funds

Concerns of misused district funds first arose in November, when the school district completed an internal investigation into McLay’s alleged usage of district funds. McLay has been the high school assistant principal since 2016. He reached an agreement with the school board in November to step down as assistant principal and head wrestling coach at the end of this year and be placed as a district teacher next year.

According to the criminal complaint:

McLay allegedly asked to use district funds for football tickets in 2011, and was told by a district accounting supervisor he could not.

However, from 2012 to 2018 McLay allegedly used district funds to pay for multiple people’s expenses, at least two of which were non-district employees, for things like hotel rooms, rental cars and to go to college football games in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana. The charges were labeled by an athletic department secretary as “tickets for game during coaches clinic,” “hotel rooms for coaches clinic” or “courtesy car rental deposit” expenses.

From 2015 to 2017, McLay allegedly used district funds for trips to college football games in Florida, but those tickets were paid for by university employees, not district funds.

In a 2018 trip to a University of Notre Dame football game in Indiana, McLay labeled his expense reports as “coaching trip,” prompting the district to further investigate his misuse of district funds.

McLay is set to appear in court at 9 a.m. on April 8 at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings.

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