Former Orangevale resident Matthew Muller was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury and charged with kidnapping a Vallejo woman in March in a case that has generated national attention.
Muller, 38, is accused of the March 23 kidnap of Denise Huskins, whose disappearance initially was dismissed as a “hoax” by Vallejo police.
The indictment was announced in a news release by U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner’s office in Sacramento and follows the filing of a criminal complaint against Muller after his arrest in June.
“The bizarre circumstances of the events in Vallejo in March complicated the investigation of this matter,” Wagner said in a statement. “But the Vallejo Police Department, the FBI and our law enforcement allies in Alameda County have done excellent work in recent months to bring this investigation to a conclusion.”
Muller is being held in the Sacramento County jail without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, when he is expected to enter a not guilty plea.
The onetime San Francisco immigration attorney pleaded no contest in an Alameda County case last month in which he was accused of breaking into a Dublin home on June 5 in a suspected kidnap attempt that went awry when a man in the home awoke to find an intruder and hit the assailant with a flashlight.
Muller faces life in prison in the federal case. His lawyer, Tom Johnson of Sacramento, has said he suffers from mental health issues.
Muller is a 1995 graduate of Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks. After high school, he enlisted in the Marines and served in Afghanistan, then returned home and graduated from Pomona College and Harvard Law School.
He briefly became an immigration attorney in San Francisco but the State Bar began proceedings to disbar him after he was accused of failing to show up for cases.
The charges stem from a bizarre kidnap case that Vallejo police originally described as a hoax.
Authorities believe Muller broke into the Mare Island home Huskins shared with her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, bound them and forced them to take a drug cocktail that contained Nyquil. Muller than allegedly spirited Huskins away in the trunk of Quinn’s Toyota Camry.
In a claim filed by the couple against the city of Vallejo, lawyers described a hellish two days for Huskins as she was sexually assaulted twice and later forced to record a “proof of life” video that was mailed to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter.
Huskins, 30, was later released, and Vallejo police told reporters they believed the incident was a hoax that had wasted city resources.
“VPD never had any evidence that the kidnapping was a hoax,” according to the couple’s claim, which was filed last month and seeks compensation for harm to their reputations, emotional and physical distress, and punitive damages. “VPD’s public statements were a vicious and destructive attack on Denise and Aaron, which destroyed their reputations and struck them at their most vulnerable moment.”
Vallejo officials have declined to comment on the case, but police Chief Andrew J. Bidou sent Huskins and Quinn apology letters on July 20 conceding “it is now clear that there was a kidnapping.”