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New York, NY: A veteran NYPD transit officer has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the death of his 8 year-old son, Thomas, but deserves much longer.
The ex-cop, Michael Valva, allegedly forced his child to sleep in a cold garage, where his temperature dropped so severely that he couldn’t recover despite getting medical attention.
However, the incident wasn’t a matter of poor disciplinary styles. It was one that reflected a pattern of abuse and neglect of not only the 8-year-old Thomas, but his sibling Anthony as well. And not just by Valva, but by his fiancé, Angelina Pollina, 42, who was also involved. She was also originally charged with murder and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
The 2020 Incident
Both Valva and Pollina were initially indicted in Suffolk County two years ago. In a statement made by then District Attorney Timothy Sini, he said:
“Unfortunately as we dig deeper into this case, we are learning more about how horrible these two defendants allegedly were to these children, and we are not going to stop until we get to the truth.”
According to authorities, police responded to a call at 9:40am on a report that a child had fallen and hit his head. He was then taken to Long Island Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Further investigation revealed that the child’s internal body temperature was recorded at 76.1 degrees. That’s more than twenty degrees from the average temperature of 98.6. The medical examiner listed the cause of death as hypothermia. Authorities alleged that Valva forced the child to sleep in the garage that evening.
Further investigation of the residence produced additional troubling details. According to a Fox 5 NY column, it stated:
“The investigation included a forensic analysis of surveillance cameras installed in various rooms throughout Valva and Pollina’s residence. One of the surveillance cameras was positioned to record the floor of the garage and was labeled “Kids’ Room.” Surveillance video allegedly showed Thomas and his brother sleeping in the garage without a mattress, pillows or sheets on the night of Jan. 15.”
The prosecution submitted other evidence that showed video footage from the camera system installed within the home. It was shown in court that on one occasion Valva is seen screaming at one of the boys, Thomas. He subsequently took him outside in subfreezing temperatures and hose him down with water. The boy then lost consciousness and fell face down several times onto the concrete patio.
School Reports Disturbing Information
Investigators also revealed that the East Moriches School District submitted additional reports of abuse and neglect. Officials from the school stated that both brothers often showed up to school cold, bruised, scratched, cut and hungry. Other reports indicated that both brothers also carried a small of urine and feces.
It was also reported by the school that the boys were seen eating food off the floor and taking half-eaten food from the garbage and taking other children’s food. These were all clear indicators of neglect and abuse at home.
Valva was found guilty of all charges and is at the front end of a 25 year stretch in prison. Although he carries guilt, it is difficult to have sympathy for him. In a statement he made in court, he stated:
“I have already sentenced myself to a lifetime of extreme regret, remorse and grief.”
To prosecution also made a statement to the court. It was one of a sorrow. District Attorney Raymond Tierney told the court:
“This is one of the most difficult and heartbreaking cases I have experienced in my nearly 30 years as a prosecutor. The torture that killed Thomas and endangered Anthony’s welfare was nothing short of evil. Thankfully, the story of this defendant ends here, but the pursuit of justice for Thomas and Anthony continues.”
Valva’s co-defendant and former fiancé Angelina Pollina, now 45, is still facing her charges. She is due for trial in February of 2023. No updates were provided by the surviving sibling Anthony, we just pray he has found a loving home with family who care for him properly.
If you or someone you know hear of suspected child abuse or neglect, report it to the proper authorities or call 1(800) 4- A- CHILD or visit the national child abuse website. It could mean the difference between life and death. Our children deserve better.
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