Aschinger pleads not-guilty to perjury
The former Carroll woman gave conflicting accounts of her role in an extortion scheme
February 19, 2014
Elizabeth Aschinger, whose sex affair with her father-in-law was at the heart of an extortion scheme last year, gave written pleas of not-guilty Tuesday to perjury, a felony, and obstruction of justice, a misdemeanor.
Sac County Attorney Ben Smith filed the charges after Aschinger, 24, failed to testify in court last month against a man implicated in the April 2013 scheme to blackmail the father-in-law for $55,555 with the threat to reveal the affair.
Aschinger's cooperation with the prosecution of Andrew Menken, 37, a former juvenile court officer who was acquitted last month of a felony theft charge for the scheme, was a requirement for the deferred judgment she received for her role in the scheme.
Aschinger pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to commit extortion because she deleted cellphone text-message threats her father-in-law, Randy Aschinger, of Lake View, received from the admitted extortionist, Jason Heffelmeier, 29, of Buckingham, who made a similar deal with the county attorney.
However, Heffelmeier complied with his agreement and testified in court against Menken.
Both Heffelmeier and Elizabeth Aschinger avoided prison sentences under the deferred-judgment deals, but Smith has moved to revoke Aschinger's.
Aschinger initially told Sac County Sheriff Ken McClure that she deleted the messages because she thought her father-in-law had concocted a faux blackmail scheme as a way to coerce her into having more sex with him. When she later pleaded guilty, Aschinger admitted to the judge to conspiring with Heffelmeier and Menken to extort her father-in-law, but she did not provide further details of her involvement during the court hearing.
In an interview with Menken's defense attorney five days before his trial last month, Aschinger recanted what she had told the judge in September.
"I completely believe now that Jason (Heffelmeier) had everything to do with it," she said in last month's interview.
A judge on Tuesday set Aschinger's perjury and obstruction of justice trial for April 8.
She faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted of the crimes and if her deferred judgment is revoked.
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