A former Burbank police officer was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison Monday after pleading guilty to lying to investigators during a probe into an alleged scheme involving his girlfriend and her estranged husband.
Anthony Valento, 44, pleaded guilty in March to one count of making false statements to federal authorities about his relationship with the woman, Gayle Bassett, while the FBI was investigating allegations brought forth by her estranged husband, Jeremy Bassett, that the pair was seeking money from him in exchange for attempting to drop criminal charges filed against him.
U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson said in court Monday that Valento’s conduct brought shame upon himself and damaged the public’s trust in law enforcement and the Burbank police force. Valento, he said, “broke the very laws he was sworn to protect” and “abused the trust placed in him from the public.”
In recent court records, prosecutors laid out a series of text messages between Valento and Gayle Bassett, as well as recorded conversations between the pair and Jeremy Bassett, over several months in which they reportedly discussed influencing prosecutors if Jeremy Bassett paid Gayle Bassett between $100,000 and $200,000.
The charges against Jeremy Bassett, which stem from an alleged domestic-violence incident against Gayle Bassett, were dropped last October.
As part of Valento’s plea agreement, federal prosecutors dismissed the remaining charges, which included one count of federal program bribery and four counts of wire fraud.
The wire fraud charges stemmed from allegations that he falsified records and disabled his patrol car’s GPS device to make it appear as though he was working when he was not, according to court records.
Valento’s sentence, which was a result of a plea agreement he reached with prosecutors in February, includes three years of supervised release.
Valento reportedly agreed to resign from the Burbank Police Department, where he’s worked for nearly two decades, immediately after his sentencing.
The judge ordered Valento to surrender before noon on June 26.
Outside the courtroom on Monday, Valento’s attorney Dale Rubin declined to comment.
In recent court records filed by Rubin, however, Valento’s attorneys called him a “hard-working individual who became involved in a perfect storm of interpersonal crises that will never occur again.”
The false statements could be viewed as attempts to shield Valento, his family, as well as Gayle Bassett and her family “from the embarrassment of the extramarital affair,” the document stated.
Three people, including Valento’s wife, submitted character references to the judge in support of Valento.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Bassett has filed a lawsuit against Valento, Gayle Bassett, the city of Burbank and another former officer alleging that he was falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted.
Jeremy Bassett’s attorney Bradley Gage said Tuesday that his client, who he called a victim of a “vicious conspiracy,” can now begin his “healing process.”
“We expect members of law enforcement to uphold the law,” Gage said. “We hold them, generally, in the highest regard. We allow them to carry guns, badges, make arrests, put people in prison with their testimony, and it’s shocking when one admits that he lied to the FBI.”
Gayle Bassett previously agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to deprive her husband of his constitutional rights. The plea agreement included no prison time.