Burbank officer gets prison for lying to federal investigators
A former Burbank police officer was sentenced Monday to 30 months in federal prison for lying to federal authorities who were investigating an alleged plot 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 that the pair was seeking money from her estranged husband 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 on himself and damaged the public’s trust in law enforcement and the Burbank police force, the Burbank Leader reported. 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 the estranged husband, Jeremy Bassett, over several months. During those conversations, they reportedly discussed influencing prosecutors if Jeremy Bassett coughed up $100,000 to $200,000.
The charges against Jeremy Bassett, which stem from accusations of a 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 also 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.”
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.
Gayle Bassett previously agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to deprive her husband of his constitutional rights. The plea agreement included no prison time.
Alene Tchekmedyian is a Times Community News staff writer.
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