Trooper struck by LI man fleeing Cortlandt fraud arrest, cops say

Robert Bernhard, 39, of Selden, faces multiple charges Robert Bernhard, 39, of Selden, faces multiple charges relating to fraud and forgery and is charged with striking a state trooper with his car after fleeing from the Best Buy store in the Town of Cortlandt on Sunday. (March 4, 2013) Photo Credit: New York State Police

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A Long Island man was in Westchester County Jail on Monday, facing numerous charges after striking a state trooper with his car Sunday while trying to evade arrest on fraud charges at a Cortlandt shopping center, police said.

Robert Bernhard, 39, of Selden, was charged with five counts of possession of a forged instrument and one count each of identity theft, reckless endangerment, attempted aggravated assault on a police officer and criminal mischief, all felonies, as well as numerous vehicle and traffic violations, State Police at Cortlandt said in a statement Monday.

At 4:18 p.m. Sunday, police were called to the Best Buy store in the Cortlandt Town Center on East Main Street on a report of possible fraud, police said. Employees pointed out Bernhard outside the store and a trooper questioned him briefly, then told him he needed to go back inside the store to clear up the matter.

Bernhard abruptly ran away from the trooper, jumped into his car and sped off, hitting the trooper with the car, police said. He then began driving recklessly around the parking lot, nearly striking several pedestrians, before crashing into a State Police car that had come to the area to assist.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone else was hurt and no details were released about the condition of the injured trooper. State police investigators could not be reached for comment.

Police arrested Bernhard and found he had five forged out-of-state driver's licenses, as well as several thousand dollars in stolen Apple products from Best Buy stores around the tri-state area, police said.

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A passenger in Bernhard's car was questioned and released without charges, police said.

The investigation is continuing into the stolen merchandise and Bernhard's alleged use of the forged licenses, and more charges are likely, police said.

Bernhard was arraigned Monday before Cortlandt Town Justice Daniel McCarthy and sent to the jail without bail. He returns to court March 11.

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No information on his legal representation was immediately available.

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