A jury has awarded a Burbank Police officer and his brother $80,000
after determining the siblings were illegally arrested by L.A. County
sheriff's deputies at a concert nearly two years ago.
Officer Anthony Valento and his brother, Joseph, were arrested
during a July 2001 concert by pop-punk band Offspring at Universal
Amphitheater. The brothers were initially charged with several
crimes, including inappropriately touching two girls, public
intoxication and disturbing the peace by fighting. Joseph Valento
also was charged with felony sexual assault.
But in April 2002, the district attorney's office dropped all
criminal charges against the two, saying only that there were
problems with the identification of the men. Anthony Valento was also
cleared of any wrongdoing in September by a Burbank Police Department
A lawsuit filed by the brothers against StaffPro Security and
several of its guards was settled out of court in late March for an
undisclosed amount, according to the brothers' attorney, Robert
Walters. In the complaint, the brothers claimed they were punched and
kicked by guards at the venue.
A separate lawsuit naming a lieutenant and two deputies with the
Sheriff's Department went to trial, and last week the jury awarded
$40,000 each to Anthony and Joseph Valento.
In the verdict reached April 24, the jury found Lt. Brad Welker
and deputies Douglas Gillies and Edward O'Neil had illegally arrested
Joseph Valento, and that Welker and Gillies illegally arrested
Walters said the settlement amount was smaller than what his
clients were seeking, but that the main goal of the lawsuit was to
clear their names.
"We had to exonerate their names and reputations, and the only way
to do that was to go to trial and get a jury to do that," Walters
said. "They were not seeking a ton of money -- the objective was not
to make money."
While Walters said the Valento brothers are looking forward to
putting the incident behind them, the decision by the jury might not
be the end of the case. Donna Koch, senior deputy county counsel,
would not say if the county would appeal the jury's award. She said
only that the county is looking at its options.
However the case resolves itself, Walters said the allegations
were so damaging neither brother will be able to pursue a career in
"Joseph will never become a police officer, and Anthony will never
be promoted," he said.