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Officer illegally used police computers, charges say

Kyle Hopkins

A former Anchorage police officer illegally used police computers to look up confidential information about a woman he arrested and weeks later had sex with, according to charges filed Monday.

The charges say Mark J. Moeller, 25, urged a city prosecutor to drop drunken driving charges against the woman. While working as a police officer, he also asked for and received an Alaska State Troopers' report involving the woman and her ex-boyfriend and later admitted to burning the report at his home, according to the charges and interviews with police.

Moeller resigned in February, according to the department.

Police in Alaska use a state database of personal and often confidential information to make arrests and learn important information about the people they pull over during traffic stops. The network tells an officer if someone is listed as a missing person, or is wanted for a crime or if the car he or she is driving is stolen.

It's against the law for police to use the system for personal reasons.

Moeller's abuse of the system began shortly after he began working as a solo officer late last summer, according to the charges.

He used the Alaska Public Safety Information Network several times to run a criminal history check on his wife's sister, the charges say. Moeller told investigators he looked up the information at his wife's request, to make sure the sister didn't have a warrant.

On Dec. 12, Moeller discovered his sister-in-law indeed had a warrant and warned his wife not to get pulled over with her in the vehicle, the charges say.

The most glaring problems began on New Year's Eve. A 23-year-old woman who had just had a fight with her boyfriend called police from Eagle River. She wanted to report herself for drunken driving, said Steve Hebbe, deputy chief for the Anchorage Police Department.

"Essentially, she said she's too drunk to be driving and told us where she was. We went over and we agreed," Hebbe said.

Moeller made the arrest and took the woman into custody before transferring her to another officer.

Moeller began calling the woman in the following days, Hebbe said. He had her phone number and email address. He knew where she was staying, though it's unclear how much of that information he gathered through the arrest and how much she volunteered, Hebbe said.

"They struck up a friendship and began hanging out together," the deputy chief said.

Police learned there might be a problem when a city prosecutor, Seneca Theno, reported Moeller had called or emailed her four times in January, lobbying her to drop the case against the woman.

"The prosecutor just though it was unusual," Hebbe said.

Moeller also searched the woman's name in the law enforcement database three times that month, at her request. She wanted to know if her license had been suspended or revoked, the charges say.

Also at the woman's request, Moeller twice searched for the name of her ex-boyfriend in mid-January, the charges say. While in Palmer for an unrelated case, Moeller asked for and received a copy of a state troopers' police report. Hebbe said the report was related to a trooper investigation involving the woman Moeller had arrested and befriended and her ex-boyfriend.

"Moeller also stated that a trooper had emailed him photographs of a search warrant execution on (the boyfriend's) residence," the charges say. Moeller told police he showed the photos to the woman.

Hebbe said troopers often share police reports and other information with police and did not know that the report Moeller had requested was for his personal use.

Moeller and the woman became close, Hebbe said. The charges say the pair engaged in a "one-time sexual event" on Jan. 28.

"That would be like the final stone in this investigation," Hebbe said of the criminal case against Moeller.

Police learn a lot about the people they arrest, he said. "You're not allowed to then use (that information) outside of work to further a personal relationship and then contact somebody."

Prosecutors dismissed the drunken driving charge against the woman Moeller arrested on Feb. 28, court records show. Police spokeswoman Dani Myren said she did not know why charge was dismissed. The prosecutor could not immediately be reached for comment.

Moeller is charged with eight felony counts of criminal use of a computer as well as misdemeanor charges of misuse of confidential information and official misconduct.

 


By KYLE HOPKINS
khopkins@adn.com