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Trial set for three others in ‘Cannibal Cop’ probe

A police sketch shows Forest Hills Police Officer Gilberto Valle during his conspiracy to kidnap trial earlier this year. The trlal of Valle's alleged conspirator and two others is scheduled to begin next month. AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams
TimesLedger Newspapers

A trial is set to begin next month for the New Jersey man accused of conspiring with the Forest Hills “Cannibal Cop” and two others snagged in the FBI investigation.

Federal prosecutors will attempt to show that Michael Van Hise, Robert Asch and Richard Meltz plotted to kidnap and rape several of Van Hise’s female family members as well as an undercover FBI agent during a trial in Manhattan federal court scheduled to begin Jan. 27.

Van Hise, who lives in Hamilton, N.J., was arrested in January on charges he allegedly offered to pay Forest Hills NYPD officer Gilberto Valle $5,000 to kidnap and deliver a Manhattan woman Van Hise wanted to rape and murder.

Asch is a former librarian at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and Meltz is chief of police at the Bedford Veterans Administration Medical Center in Massachusetts. All three men were indicted on kidnapping conspiracy charges. Asch was also charged with possessing child pornography.

Valle’s arrest and trial made for spectacular headlines as the details of the alleged plot — including meticulous files compiled on his purported targets, visits to shocking fetish websites and Internet chats reveling in the desire to consume human flesh — were made public.

During the trial his attorneys argued that Valle was simply indulging in fantasy role play and had no intention of ever acting on the twisted plots, but a jury nevertheless found him guilty in March of the kidnapping conspiracy as well as accessing a restricted federal database to find information on his potential victims.

The former NYPD police officer is facing life in prison, although he has not been sentenced as his attorneys have moved to have the ruling vacated and have requested a new trial.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, said that while the FBI was investigating Valle’s Internet chats with Van Hise, they discovered the New Jersey man had allegedly been chatting with two others in a plot to act out vulgar perversions against his family members.

“The FBI met with Van Hise, who told agents that he had been communicating with individuals later identified as Christopher Robert Asch and Richard Meltz about kidnapping, raping and murdering his wife, sister-in-law and her minor children,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wrote in court documents.

“While Van Hise originally attempted to cooperate with law enforcement, this cooperation was ultimately unsuccessful, for a number of reasons, including his false claims that he was working with New Jersey enforcement officers in investigating Asch and Meltz,” the prosecutor wrote.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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