Trial set for accused blackmailer
December 2, 2013
The former juvenile court officer for Carroll County faces a January trial for his alleged role in the attempted extortion of a Lake View farmer.
Andrew Menken, 37, was one of three accused of a blackmail scheme that sought $55,555 from the farmer, Randall Aschinger, 59, in April.
His alleged co-conspirators - Elizabeth Aschinger, 24, and Jason Heffelmeier, 29 - admitted in court to blackmailing the man, who is Elizabeth Aschinger's father-in-law, by threatening to reveal that the two had an affair.
Aschinger and Heffelmeier both implicated Menken in the scheme and agreed to testify against him at trial as part of plea agreements in which they pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to commit extortion. They received deferred judgments with the deal, which means they will not be felons and won't go to prison if they abide the terms of their two-year probations.
Menken is charged with two felonies for extortion and theft. Both are punishable by up to five years in prison.
Criminal complaints accuse Aschinger of telling Heffelmeier and Menken to use the alleged affair to threaten her father-in-law and gave them his cellphone number. The men allegedly used an unregistered, prepaid cellphone to make the threats, but investigators say they twice called with their personal cellphones, which is how investigators connected them to the scheme.
Further, both of the men's personal cellphones were in the area of a Boone park in April when Randall Aschinger left a $2,900 payment, cellphone records revealed.
Menken has repeatedly denied his alleged role in the scheme in emails to the Daily Times Herald.
He has not requested a jury trial, which means a judge will decide whether Menken is guilty. The trial is set for Jan. 28.
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