Witness in Valento case files lawsuit

A witness in the federal corruption case against a Burbank police officer, along with members of his family, is suing the city of Burbank alleging that he was falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted.

The Burbank City Council was slated to discuss the lawsuit behind closed doors on Tuesday.

Jeremy Bassett, along with his fiancé and children, filed a lawsuit in late December against the city, Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse, Officer Anthony Valento and former Officer Mark Armendariz, according to court records.

The lawsuit lists six causes of action, including malicious prosecution, false arrest, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision and violation of the Bane Act.

Burbank City Atty. Amy Albano declined to comment on the lawsuit other than to say that the city’s recommendation to the Burbank City Council is to defend it.

Valento was indicted in November on charges that he solicited money in exchange for attempting to sway prosecutors in a criminal case against Bassett as well as allegedly lying to federal authorities and defrauding the city.

Bassett, whose estranged wife began dating Valento, reported the allegations to the FBI in July and agreed to record a series of conversations between himself and the couple to be used as evidence in the federal case, according to court records.

Valento has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His criminal trial is scheduled to be held in April.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that Valento attempted to extort money from Jeremy Bassett using the criminal case against him as leverage, fabricated evidence and wrote false police reports.

Armendariz, the former police union president who was fired last year for reasons city officials have declined to divulge, was the arresting officer in an alleged domestic violence incident between Bassett and his then wife, which the plaintiffs called “concocted,” according to the lawsuit.

The criminal charges against Jeremy Bassett were dismissed in October.

The plaintiffs also claim that the police department “knew of Valento’s unfitness as an officer and criminal misconduct, yet continued to employ him as a police officer.”

According to the lawsuit, Jeremy Bassett’s mother, Donna Bassett, tried to file a complaint with the Burbank Police Department against Valento in 2012, but was allegedly intimidated by department employees who refused to accept her complaint.

The lawsuit also alleges that Valento, while on duty, handcuffed Jeremy Bassett’s son Gabriel in front of his siblings, and threatened Jeremy Bassett and his fiancé, April Rickman, in an attempt to coerce Jeremy Bassett to recant his statements to investigators.


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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