Sussex County has had some really fringe candidates
Remember Chris Thieme? Once-upon-a-time he was the "next big thing" in Sussex County politics. Yep, Chris Thieme, who came out of nowhere to grab 3,000 votes against Gary Chiusano in the 2002 Republican primary for Freeholder. People called him a "grassroots wonder" and "man of the people." Some people got so excited about Thieme that they forget to check him out -- to get behind that smiling face and a handshake. But then a funny thing happened on the way to becoming the "next big thing." We'll let the New Jersey Herald take over from here:
A Newton man and former Sussex County freeholder candidate has been arrested by federal authorities and charged with attempting to pay a hitman $25,000 to kidnap and kill a Paterson woman, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Christopher Thieme, 35, was arrested on Monday and charged with one count of murder-for-hire and one count of attempted kidnapping.
The murder-for-hire charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and the attempted kidnapping carries a maximum of 20 years. Each charge also carries a $250,000 fine.
"During multiple telephone conversations and text messages exchanged during this time period, Thieme explained to the individual that Thieme wanted the victim kidnapped and held for a week or two, during which time Thieme would empty the victim's bank accounts and sell the victim's real property for his own profit," a criminal complaint against Thieme said.
The complaint alleges that after two dates, the victim attempted to cut off contact from Thieme.
Thieme allegedly told the undercover agent that he would make the victim's death look like a heroin overdose, the complaint alleges.
On Jan. 4, Thieme took the undercover agent to the victim's home and other frequented locations before being dropped off in Caldwell and being arrested shortly after by the FBI.
No, that didn't end too well at all. Thieme's barnstorming of Sussex County will have to wait seven years, because that's when he is expected to get out of prison.
Sussex County has a long history of fringe candidates who came out of nowhere, unvetted, with no background on offer beyond a smile and a handshake. "What you see is what you get" they'll tell you, but oh... not really.
One got as far as being elected a local mayor before it was found out that he improperly used state time and property and he went to jail, another got six months in prison for corruption, another was convicted of abusing two girls, another had to resign over juvenile Facebook posts -- and all their supporters uniformly expressed shock and could not understand how the person who they had promoted turned bad. In fact, the bad was there all along only they refused to see the warning signs.
Yeah, yeah, they would say, "maybe that Facebook post was in bad taste, but he is doing it to make a point." And then he went further, and they made more excuses. Until one day, it went too far...
Take the case of former Byram Councilman Rick Meltz. He was the quintessential "nice guy" and small town "goodfella". Everybody liked the guy -- until he was arrested in 2013 for his involvement with New York's infamous "cannibal cop", the NYPD's Gilberto Valle, who planned to stalk, kill, and eat his female victims.
In January 2014, Meltz pleaded guilty to planning to kidnap, rape, and murder women. According to the New Jersey Herald, Meltz and his co-conspirators planned to "attack and kill multiple victims, including the wife, children and other family members of a co-conspirator." Meltz and his co-conspirators also discussed what they referred to as the "snuffing" of "women, children, and infants." With the FBI's tapes rolling, Meltz dispensed tips on how to kill without getting caught, such as "removing a victim’s teeth to avoid dental identification, taking off the fingers to avoid fingerprint identification, and chopping off and disposing of the head."
Yes, this is the same Councilman Meltz who nearly won the Republican primary for Sussex County Sheriff. Oh yes, Meltz shouted and hollered about how he was a true patriot -- a Sam Adams if you will -- and how the incumbent was a bad guy who wasn't "one of the people" (like him). And this lunatic almost won, getting 4,406 to the incumbent's 4,752.
That was a close call for Sussex County.