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Former Veterans Affairs Police Chief Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Participating in Kidnapping Conspiracies

U.S. Attorney’s Office January 16, 2014
  • Southern District of New York (212) 637-2600

Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Richard Meltz pled guilty today to charges arising from his involvement in two separate conspiracies to kidnap, rape, and murder specific women. Meltz, at the time the chief of police, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, at the Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center, conspired to kidnap, rape, and murder the wife of a man he had met over the Internet and a female Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent working in an undercover capacity. Meltz was charged in April 2013 and pled guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Paul G. Gardephe.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “Richard Meltz, a former law enforcement officer, now stands convicted of serious federal crimes for his involvement in two sadistic kidnapping, rape, and murder conspiracies. Prosecuting and bringing to justice perpetrators of such depraved and violent crimes is at the core of this office’s mission. Meltz’s guilty plea today furthers that mission and brings us one step closer to resolving this case.”

According to the information to which Meltz pled guilty, statements made during the plea proceeding, and other court documents:

Between the spring of 2011 and January 2013, Meltz, Robert Christopher Asch, and Michael Van Hise engaged in a series of electronic e-mail and instant message communications during which they discussed and planned the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Van Hise’s wife and other members of Van Hise’s family. Van Hise sent to Meltz and Asch photographs of these family members and the approximate location of their residence. Meltz engaged in detailed discussions about kidnapping and brutalizing the proposed victims and ultimately assisted Van Hise and Asch in planning a kidnapping, rape, and murder. The co-conspirators ceased active planning of the kidnapping when the FBI arrested New York City Police Officer Gilberto Valle for a related kidnapping conspiracy and began investigating Van Hise.

In addition, beginning in approximately January 2013, Meltz, Asch, and an FBI agent working in an undercover capacity (UC-1) began discussions about kidnapping a woman, who, unbeknownst to Meltz and his co-conspirators, was also an FBI agent working in an undercover capacity. Meltz participated in multiple conversations with both UC-1 and Asch about the conspiracy’s objective to kidnap and commit acts of violence against the intended victim and other women. He advised Asch to obtain a stun gun to subdue the intended target, and based on Meltz’s direction, Asch purchased a high-voltage Taser gun at a gun show in Pennsylvania, which they intended to use in the commission of the kidnapping offense. Charges against the two alleged co-conspirators, Michael Van Hise and Robert Christopher Asch, remain pending, and they are scheduled to begin trial in early 2014.

Meltz, 65, of Linden, New Jersey, pled guilty to two counts of engaging in a conspiracy to commit kidnapping. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Gardephe on May 22, 2014, at 2:30 p.m.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI. He also thanked the Department of Veterans Affairs and the New Jersey State Police for their assistance in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Violent Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Brooke E. Cucinella and Hadassa Waxman are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges against Van Hise and Asch are merely accusations, and those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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