Former Police Sergeant Admits She Lied about Being Attacked

WEST PENN TOWNSHIP -- A former police sergeant in Schuylkill County pleaded guilty to lying about being attacked last year.

Melissa Ruch served as a West Penn Township officer and even received an award for heroism after the alleged attack.

Last September, there was an all-day manhunt while law enforcement searched for the man Ruch claimed attacked her. On Wednesday, Ruch admitted to a judge that she made the whole thing up.

At her preliminary hearing in Orwigsburg in January, Ruch was adamant that, while she was working for the West Penn Township Police Department in September of 2015, she was attacked after pulling over a car on Route 309 near Tamaqua. She was even insulted by the accusation she made the whole thing up.

Just as a trial was set to start, Ruch changed her tune and pleaded guilty.

"She admitted to the public, to the police, to everyone that was inconvenienced and startled and afraid that day that she did make a false report to incriminate another," said Schuylkill County District Attorney Christine Holman.

Ruch was flown to the hospital after her alleged attack. She gave authorities a detailed description of a tall, heavyset Hispanic man with the name Jose Cruz Mendez. As it turns out, that was just an elaborate lie.

“We were concerned by the issues that were raised, you know, the safety, that someone would do that. Policemen in the area were looking for him. It made us feel less secure, so it's better that the truth came out," said Linda Zimmerman of West Penn Township.

Ruch never said why she lied, and the district attorney's office was never able to determine that either.

"I'm guessing only she will know why, and that is something she is going to have to live with. She will have to answer to somebody one day," said Michelle Rausch of West Penn Township.

Although Ruch admitted to making a false report, she will not spend a day in jail. Ruch received 12 months probation and will have to pay back more than $80,000 for workers compensation that was paid and crime lab fees.

6 comments

  • lookback

    And it gets better, now she is claiming in a local paper that she is innocent and she said even the court must feel that way or they wouldn’t have given her such a sweet plea deal, so why did the DA fold on this case?

  • lookback

    It gets better (or worse). Now in an interview in a local paper she is claiming she is innocent and only pleaded in order to save her family. She even states she is innocent and she said the court feels that way also or they wouldn’t have made her such a sweet plea deal. What a bunch of bull, over 100 grand spent on the search and she gets to walk free, and charged with misdemeanors with three of them being dropped, how about criminal misuse of a communications device, conspiracy, misuse of police equipment (taser), lying to investigators, work mans comp. fraud, there is no justice in PA, the DA Holman should be fired for accepting this plea deal.

  • Shine-on

    I cannot believe that she, for as long she has been in law enforcement, she could even think of doing such an act. She gives law enforcement a BAD NAME!!. All those men and women who spent countless hours, and the monies spent on her little charade, she should be in PRISON and not out in society!! Will she ever pay back the $80K, I doubt it!! She sure didn’t think of what a prime example she was in the eyes of her daughter now, did she? Like mother, like daughter!

  • nasca7

    “Ruch never said why she lied, and the district attorney’s office was never able to determine that either.” No mystery here. She did it to qualify for disability so she could sit on her butt.

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