Former Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Charged with Conspiracy, Federal Programs Bribery, Attempted Extortion, and False Statements
|U.S. Department of Justice August 09, 2013|
WASHINGTON—A former sergeant in the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office (PSO) was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia for accepting bribes in exchange for favors and referrals, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia.
The indictment charges Melvin Hike, 65, of Portsmouth, Virginia, with one count each of conspiracy, federal programs bribery, attempted extortion under color of official right, and false statements. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the attempted extortion, 10 years in prison for the federal programs bribery, and five years in prison each for the conspiracy and false statements. Hike also faces a maximum fine of $250,000 for each count. The indictment was unsealed following Hike’s arrest this morning.
According to the indictment, from 2008 to 2012, Hike was a PSO sergeant assigned to the warrant squad or to provide security in the Portsmouth Circuit Court. Person A was a bail bondsman based in Portsmouth whose income depended on the number of arrestee clients he served. At various times between 2008 and 2012, Person A gave Hike cash payments, and in exchange Hike referred arrestees to Person A as prospective clients.
The indictment also alleges that in or about June 2010, Hike, acting under color of official right as a PSO sergeant, obtained a gift card valued at $250 to which he was not entitled, in exchange for his assistance in getting an arrestee released on bond and assigned a bondsman.
On or about January 27, 2012, Hike allegedly made false statements to FBI agents investigating his conduct. According to the indictment, Hike stated that he had never accepted money from any bondsman, that he had never referred any arrestees to a bondsman, and that he had never accepted anything of value from an arrestee, knowing that all three statements were false.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the FBI. Trial Attorneys Peter Mason and Monique Abrishami of the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy E. Cross of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.