NY librarian, Mass. official accused of NY plot

AP News
Posted: Apr 15, 2013 6:52 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A police official at a Massachusetts veterans hospital and a former New York City high school librarian were charged in a plot to kidnap, rape, torture and kill women, children and infants, authorities said Monday.

The case against Robert Christopher Asch, 61, and Richard Meltz, 65, was built by many of the same investigators who successfully prosecuted a former New York City police officer on kidnap conspiracy charges in a high-profile cannibalism plot case.

A jury in that case last month rejected defense arguments that Officer Gilberto Valle was engaging only in demented Internet fantasies. He is awaiting sentencing.

There was no mention of cooking or eating women in the charges unveiled Monday against Asch, a former librarian at Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan, and Meltz, the chief of police at the Bedford Veterans Administration Medical Center in Massachusetts. Both were ordered held without bail after an initial court appearance.

Authorities said in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that the men conspired since the spring of 2011 to attack multiple victims, including the relatives of an unidentified co-conspirator who claimed in Internet communications that he wanted to solicit individuals to kidnap, rape and kill his wife, his sister-in-law and her children, and his stepdaughter. A criminal complaint said the men referred to the planned killings in communications as the "snuffing" of women, children and infants.

Authorities also accused the pair of conspiring to kidnap and kill a woman who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent. After hearing about the Valle case and how it was built on online evidence, the men allegedly started communicating solely by telephone as a precaution, unaware there was a wiretap, authorities said.

In court, prosecutors told a magistrate judge that Meltz was overheard discussing killing his wife of 42 years. They also said Meltz had directed Asch to buy a Taser for the plot that was recovered when Asch was arrested on Monday morning.

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Defense attorney Peter Brill said Meltz's wife was aware of his activities, but believes it's fantasy.

"She's very concerned about her husband," he said in a failed bid for bail.

Afterward, he said in a response to an email seeking comment that Meltz "is a devoted husband, a loving father and a dedicated public servant. He never had any plan, intent or desire to see anyone hurt or killed at any time in real life. For anyone to suggest otherwise, despite his fantasy role-playing, is ludicrous."

Lori Cohen, Asch's attorney, declined to comment.

FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said the men "were not confined to talking about these ghoulish plans. They acquired the tools to accomplish the deed, including a stun gun and the chemical means to anesthetize their victims. And they made detailed plans to use these instruments — plans that were foiled by the FBI's intervention."