Stories written by Jo Ciavaglia, award-winning multimedia newspaper reporter at the Bucks County Courier Times in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa.
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Saturday, October 6, 2012
Son of one of the Flight 93 heroes is facing criminal charges in Bucks County
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
On Tuesday, Joseph Nacke mourned the loss of his father — one of the Flight 93 heroes — as he does every Sept. 11.
Only on this year’s anniversary of the U.S. terrorist attacks, he did so while wearing a yellow Bucks County prison uniform and shackles.
Nacke, 28, who lists addresses in Clementon and Pittman, N.J., appeared before Morrisville District Judge Michael Burns for preliminary hearings on four criminal cases dating back to a 48-hour period at the beginning of last year.
Police say Nacke allegedly entered three cars in Solebury and Lower Makefield on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23, 2011, and stole items such as credit and identification cards then used them to open lines of credit and to purchase thousands of dollars of items.
On Jan. 24, 2011, Yardley police alleged that Nacke used a gun to rob a Wawa on the 40 block of South Main Street shortly before 5 a.m. He entered a not guilty plea on that charge.
While the charges against Nacke were filed in February and April 2011, he was not arrested and arraigned until June 14, according to online court records. He has been in Bucks County prison ever since in lieu of 10 percent of both $100,000 and $250,000 bail.
Nacke is the oldest child of the late Louis Nacke, 42, of New Hope, a KayBee Toys executive who was aboard the doomed United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001.
Nacke is believed to be among the passengers who rushed the cockpit and foiled terrorist hijackers’ plans to crash the plane into an unknown target, possibly the U.S. Capitol or White House. They all lost their lives after the plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Somerset County.
In the years since his father’s death, Joseph Nacke amassed an “extensive” criminal history in New Jersey, according to court documents. He is known to New Jersey law enforcement to steal from parked cars and commit identity and credit card theft, police said.
Solebury police said that Nacke admitted during a March interview at Camden County Correctional Facility that he entered two parked cars on Jan. 22 and stole identification and credit cards, which he used to obtain fraudulent charge accounts and buy items.
He also admitted to using the Pittman, N.J., home address of his girlfriend, Angela Ruggeri, to open fraudulent accounts and to using a victim’s identity during a traffic stop while driving his brother’s car in Cherry Hill, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Nacke told police that Ruggeri, 27, and Nacke’s younger brother, Louis Nacke II, 25, of Dundalk, Md., were with him when he made $4,000 worth of fraudulent purchases at a New Jersey department store, according to court records. He used another victim’s credit card to buy $100 worth of cigarettes at a Bellmawr, N.J., gas station, the court records show.
The third case involved a Lower Makefield resident who reported that someone entered his car Jan. 23, 2011, and stole a credit card, which was then used to make more than $1,800 worth of purchases between 1:25 and 6:35 a.m. according to court records.
For those three cases, Nacke is charged with multiple counts of forgery, credit cards stolen or forged, theft by unlawful taking, identity theft, receiving stolen property, conspiracy and access device crimes. Nacke waived those charges to Bucks County Court in Doylestown on Tuesday as part of an agreement to plead guilty.
In exchange, the District Attorney’s Office will drop multiple felony conspiracy charges against Louis Nacke II, prosecutor Matt Hoover confirmed. An arrest warrant was issued in April 2011 for Ruggeri on conspiracy charges, but she remains a fugitive.
After Tuesday’s brief hearing, Judge Burns also held Nacke for trial in the Wawa robbery on charges that included robbery with threat of immediate serious injury, a first-degree felony, and terroristic threats. The DA’s office dropped two other charges involving illegal firearms possession.
The prosecution’s lone witness, the Wawa employee working when the store was robbed, testified that the suspect entered the store about 4:40 a.m. Jan. 24, 2011, got a cup of coffee, paid for it, and then said he wanted to get more money to buy something else.
When the man returned five or 10 minutes later, the employee testified that he got a bad feeling and started writing down the man’s physical description and also removed most of the money from the register.
The suspect got in line to buy a Tastykake cookie bar and, as the employee rang it up, pulled what appeared to be a black handgun out of his pocket and pointed it at the store clerk’s head, he testified.
The suspect then demanded money, reached over the counter, took cash out of the open drawer and ran out of the store.
Shortly after the robbery, Yardley police received information from Lower Makefield police about a case they were investigating in which the suspect matched the description of the Wawa robber, according to court documents.
A couple of weeks later, the Wawa employee identified Nacke from a photo lineup, according to court documents.
On Tuesday, the worker testified that Nacke looks like the same man who robbed him that day, though he has gained a little weight.
After the hearing, Nacke’s attorney, John Fioravanti Jr., said his client didn’t commit the gunpoint robbery at the Wawa. He wasn’t there, he said.
Nacke family members, including his mom, who was divorced from Louis Nacke at the time of his death, attended the hearing. Afterward, his uncle Frank Alexander said that Sept. 11 is a tough day for the family, especially Joseph.
“He’s a great kid,” Alexander added. “He’s a father of two boys who miss him dearly.”
Joseph Nacke’s first child — Louis Joseph Nacke — named for his grandfather, was born six months after the terrorist attacks.
In a 2002 interview marking the first anniversary of Sept. 11, Joseph Nacke described himself as still in a daze after his father’s death.
“I live day by day,” said Nacke, who was 18 when his father died. “Some days are good. Some days are bad.”