Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

May 14, 2013

Ex-APD officer pleads guilty

ASHLAND — A former Ashland Police Department officer will spend at least the next five years in a federal prison on drug-related charges.

As anticipated, Melvin Charles “JR” Schoch Jr., 32, pleaded Monday in U.S. District Court. Schoch’s attorney, David Mussetter, filed a motion last week for his client to be re-arraigned for the purpose of changing his plea.

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, Judge David L. Bunning said. The attempted possession charge carries maximum term of 20 years. However, Bunning said federal sentencing guidelines would 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.

Schoch and his co-defendant, Ellis Pittman, 34, had been scheduled to stand trial on May 28. Assuming he does not also plead guily before then, Pittman will still be tried on that date.

Details regarding the government’s case against Schoch emerged at Monday’s proceeding. The charges 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, Pittman and another defendant identified in court records only as “P.S.” 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 seal 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 for had been issued for the home. In response to a question from Bunning, Schoch said he didn’t even have a piece of paper with him to serve as window dressing in case someone questioned whether he had a warrant.

Pittman served as a lookout for Schoch and P.S., the plea agreement states.

Schoch, who joined the Bradenton, Fla., Police Department in October, told the judge he went into the residence looking only for money and not for pills. “He was hoping to relieve a drug dealer of ill-gotten gains,” Mussetter said. 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.

Bunning ordered Schoch, who had been free on bond, remanded to custody following the hearing.

Records state the case against Schoch and Pittman is related to the prosecution of Schoch’s estranged wife, Ashley Dawn Schoch. Ashley Schoch and her co-defendant, Phillip John Spurlock, pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone. According to their plea agreements, Ashley Schoch and Spurlock both sold oxycodone to confidential informants working for law enforcement in 2010 and 2011. Both are scheduled to be sentenced on June 10.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or

(606) 326-2654.

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