EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 16, 2013

NY librarian, Mass. official accused of NY plot

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 announced 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 cannibalism 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, as well as his sister-in-law and her children, along with his step-daughter. 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.

Meltz’s lawyer, Peter Brill, told a magistrate judge that the plot was only fantasy chatter. 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.”

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