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DA: Nassau cop, wife charged with conspiracy to rob Islandia casino

Jake's 58 Hotel & Casino in Islandia shown

Jake's 58 Hotel & Casino in Islandia shown in 2017. Credit: Barry Sloan

A Nassau County police officer and his wife have been arrested by Suffolk authorities on allegations they conspired to rob an Islandia casino, the Suffolk County district attorney’s office said Wednesday.

Officer Bruce Moeller and his wife, Christina Moeller, a cashier at Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino, were taken into custody Tuesday and charged with fourth-degree conspiracy, according to court documents. The Moellers conspired between March 1 and June 4 to commit an armed robbery at the casino, according to felony complaints.

Bruce Moeller is the third Nassau police officer arrested in the past week as a result of a Suffolk grand jury investigation. The other officers — publicly identified by authorities for the first time Wednesday — are Erik Skoglund, charged with fourth-degree conspiracy, and Karen Ernst, charged with fourth-degree criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor. They were given desk appearance tickets and are to be arraigned at a later date.

The district attorney’s office declined to answer questions Wednesday about the allegations the four defendants are facing or whether they’re alleged to be part of the same conspiracy.

The three police officers have been suspended without pay, said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, a spokesman for the Nassau police department.

The Moellers pleaded not guilty at their arraignments Wednesday morning in First District Court in Central Islip, said Sheila Kelly, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office. Bruce Moeller was released on a $30,000 bond and Christina Moeller was released on a $50,000 bond, their attorneys said.

“We plan to strongly defend against these allegations,” said William Petrillo, the police officer’s Garden City-based attorney. “[Moeller] served the country in the Marines for four years, including two tours in Afghanistan where he received approximately nine medals for heroic combat.”

Thomas Spreer, the defense attorney for Christina Moeller, said his client began working at Jake’s about a year ago — after her father died — and has a clean record.

“She’s never been arrested,” said Spreer, whose practice is in Babylon. “We have to explore what the district attorney’s allegation is. She has never been in trouble.”

A spokesman for Jake’s 58 did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder described the arrests as “disappointing and disheartening” and said the officers will remain suspended while an internal affairs investigation is conducted.

“Any accusation and arrest of this kind is considered extremely serious by the department,” Ryder said in a statement Wednesday night. “ . . . We hold our members to an exceptionally high standard and these individuals do not represent the professionalism and honesty exhibited by the men and women of the Nassau County Police Department.”

James McDermott, the president of the Nassau Police Benevolent Association, declined to comment.

The arrests of Skoglund and Ernst were announced June 5 by Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini. His office refused to provide those officers’ names and details of their arrests last week, citing grand jury secrecy rules, and reiterated that stance Wednesday.

Attorneys for both officers have said their clients plan to plead not guilty. Moeller has been with the department since Feb. 6, 2015, Skoglund since Oct. 16, 2015, and Ernst since June 2, 2016, LeBrun said.

In a statement Wednesday regarding the Moellers’ arrests, Sini said: “This is an ongoing grand jury investigation, which is nearing its completion. We will announce the results of that . . . investigation as soon as practicable.”

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