A former Ashland Police Department officer pleaded not guilty Friday to federal drug-trafficking charges.
Melvin “JR” Schoch Jr., 29, of Bradenton, Fla., was arraigned in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge Edward B. Atkins.
Through his attorney, David Mussetter, Schoch entered not-guilty pleas to charges to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and attempting to possess oxycodone with intent to distribute. An indictment charging Schoch and his co-defendant, Ellis Pittman, 34, of Ashland, with those offenses was returned Nov. 1 by a federal grand jury sitting in Lexington.
The indictment alleges the two conspired together, and with others, to distribute oxycodone in Boyd County between November 2009 and April 5 of this year, and attempted to possess oxycodone for purposes of distribution between May and August 2010.
Both men could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and fined up to $1 million if they are convicted.
Schoch was sworn in as an officer with the Brandenton Police Department on Oct. 24, according to a story in the online edition of the Brandenton Herald.
Atkins allowed Schoch to remain free on a property bond posted by his father. The judge also scheduled a pre-trial conference for Jan. 14 and set a trial date of Feb. 11.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Walker Jr. said he anticipated the case would take about three days to try.
Pittman’s arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 20.
Few details have been released about the case against Schoch and Pittman. However, records state the case is related to the prosecution of Schoch’s estranged wife, Ashley Dawn Schoch. Ashley Schoch and her co-defendant, Phillip John Spurlock, earlier this month pleaded guilty 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. Ashley Schoch admitted the number of pills attributable to her was about 100, while Spurlock acknowledged the number attributable to him was about 67.
Ashley Schoch and Spurlock will be sentenced March 11 by Judge David L. Bunning.
KENNETH HART can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or