By KENNETH HART
ASHLAND A former Ashland Police Department officer who pleaded guilty in May to federal drug charges is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday.
Sentencing for Melvin Charles “JR” Schoch Jr., 32, is scheduled for 10 a.m. before U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning.
Schoch pleaded guilty to two counts of a superseding indictment returned in January — attempting to possess oxycodone with intent to distribute and possessing a firearm during the commission of a drug crime. Two other counts were dismissed under the terms of Schoch’s plea agreement.
The firearms charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. The attempted possession charge carries maximum term of 20 years. However, federal sentencing guidelines will likely place Schoch’s term for that offense in the range of either 10 to 16 months or 12 to 18 months. There is no parole in the federal system.
The charges against Schoch stem from a home-invasion burglary that occurred in Boyd County in either May or June of 2009, according to Schoch’s plea agreement.
In pleading guilty, Schoch admitted he and his co-defendant, Ellis Pittman, and another man conducted surveillance on the home of an individual they believed to be in possession of a large quantity of oxycodone pills and a substantial amount of cash made from the illegal sale of narcotics.
Later, the three returned to the residence and “engaged in a home invasion ... to steal oxycodone pills and/or drug proceeds.” Schoch — who was on duty at the time and was in uniform and carrying his duty weapon, a Glock .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol — provided P.S. and Pittman with “police tactical equipment” and “entered the home under the guise of serving a search warrant,” records state.
No search warrant had been issued for the home. At his rearraignment, Schoch, who joined the Bradenton, Fla., Police Department in October, told Bunning he went into the residence looking only for money and not for pills. However, Schoch admitted he knew the others were seeking drugs and that he had assisted them in doing so.
Neither cash nor pills were found in the residence, according to court records.
Several of Schoch’s family members and friends wrote letters to Bunning urging him to show leniency for the former officer, whom they describe in the letters as a decent man and a devoted father to two young children.
Schoch’s father, Melvin C. Schoch of Rush, said in his letter he believed his son’s crime stemmed from his family being in dire financial straits due to his wife’s pill addiction. He said his son was forced numerous times to borrow money from him because of his wife overdrawing the couple’s joint checking account.
“He made a mistake, a very stupid mistake,” the elder Schoch wrote. “All because he wanted so desperately to make things work with his marriage and family without asking for anymore help.”
Another letter came from Patricia Johnson, a fourth grade teacher in Manatee County, Fla., who had Schoch’s 10-year-old son, Chase, as a pupil this past school year.
“It is very clear to me from my conversations with both Mr. Schoch and his son ... that Mr. Schoch is a very caring and devoted parent,” she wrote. “He has been the stability in Chase’s life and that has unfortunately been taken away from Chase.
“People make mistakes and people change. I believe Mr. Schoch is a very serious and caring person ... a good person who can lead a productive life, be a good citizen and guide his son to do the same.”
KENNETH HART can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2654.
By KENNETH HART
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