Claim he hacked into e-mail of ex-girlfriend to access dating site, where he sent men to her house
BY ERIK GERMAN -- Newsday Staff Writer
A police officer seeking revenge against a former girlfriend hacked into the woman's e-mail account, assumed her identity at an on-line dating service and contacted 70 men, inviting some of them for rendezvous at the woman's home, Suffolk prosecutors charged yesterday in a 197-count indictment.
Investigators declined to identify the woman, whom they said discovered the scheme when male strangers began appearing at her house, claiming she had solicited their visits via Match.com.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota hit Michael Valentine, 28, of Lake Grove, with the hefty indictment -- which included 21 felony counts -- charging him with stalking, computer tampering and aggravated harassment among other crimes, some counts punishable by up to 4 years in prison.
"This is cyber terrorism," said Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, adding that the woman told investigators she feared for her life. "The men and women of the department are being shamed today. Their badge has been tarnished."
Valentine -- who has served as a patrol officer in Suffolk's Sixth precinct since 2002 -- pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in front of Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson in Riverhead. He was released on his own recognizance yesterday morning.
There was no answer yesterday at 12 Beverly Rd., Valentine's home, although the two cars registered in his name were parked in the street in front of the house.
Valentine's attorney, Paul Gianelli of Hauppauge, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Prosecutors said Valentine's revenge scheme began in November after a six-week relationship that the couple began on Match.com ended.
"In return for her leaving him, he hacked into the victim's e-mail account," Spota said.
But police said Valentine was no computer whiz. He simply made the lucky guess that his former girlfriend had chosen as a password the name of her German shepherd.
"It didn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure this out," said Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Spota. "A lesson could be learned here and it's 'don't use your dog's name as a password.'"
Match.com spokeswoman Maida Goodman said the company would cooperate with the investigation. "Generally speaking ... the only way for an individual to have access to the account of a Match.com member is if the member's password were shared between them."
Valentine read the woman's e-mail, sent messages in her name and paid the $29.99 monthly fees to re-open the Match.com account that she'd closed after their break up, prosecutors said.
Clifford said that Valentine altered some details on the woman's on-line profile -- changing, for example, her political self-description to "ultra conservative" -- and he also sent out around 70 "Winks" or e-mails to indicate romantic interest to male Match.com clients.
While prosecutors said the messages' content was not particularly racy, it was effective. "On at least two occasions men came to her house thinking they were going to date her," Spota said. "So you can imagine how she felt."
Valentine also faces multiple charges in connection with allegedly filing a false police report claiming that the woman threatened him. Valentine showed police on Feb. 3 an e-mail he claimed to have received from the woman threatening that her friends would "come out of the bushes with a baseball bat and beat your brains out." (sound familiar readers? The cyberpath ALWAYS blame shifts to their victim - trying to make THEMSELVES look like the injured party - Fighter)
Police said Valentine sent the e-mail and are charging him with felony evidence tampering and official misconduct in connection with his report. Police said Valentine was suspended without pay in mid-February because of the investigation. He is scheduled to return to Suffolk County Court on April 20.
We were just made aware of this matter by news organizations who have contacted us and the story posted in today's Newsday.com. Naturally, we will cooperate with law enforcement officials if and when they contact us. Because of our strict privacy policies, we cannot specifically comment on this matter or provide any customer-related details. Generally speaking, however, the only way for any individual to have access to the account of a Match.com member is if the member's password were shared between them.
BY JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
Newsday Staff Writer
April 4, 2006
As a young boy, Michael Valentine aspired to be an FBI agent, his grandfather recalled yesterday. Eventually, he grew up to serve in the U.S. Army and most recently he worked as a Suffolk police officer.
It is this image of respectability that makes it hard for Anthony Valentine, 77, of Elmont, to believe that authorities have charged his grandson in an online dating scheme to get back at a former lover.
"I'm horrified to hear this story," Valentine said. "It doesn't sound like him at all ... He's always been an honorable person, looking to be the best he could be. I want people to know he has high morals." (all cyberpaths purport to familie & associates to be of unimpeachable character & high morals - covering something much darker - Fighter)
While at H. Frank Carey High School in Franklin Square, Valentine joined the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, allowing him to reach the rank of lieutenant when he joined the Army after graduation, his grandfather said.
Valentine's grandfather said that while in the Army his grandson served in Bosnia and Iraq, though he couldn't recall the dates of the tours.
"He's always done his best for everybody," the grandfather said. "I'm proud of Michael."
A fellow Sixth Precinct officer who asked not to be identified described Valentine as "courteous." Valentine's co-workers have been talking about the investigation for several months, the source said. "I was very shocked when I heard," he said.
Jeff Frayler, president of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, said Valentine became a full-fledged officer on Nov. 12, 2002.
"We'll be here to help him out," Frayler said. "We'll be here to talk to him. It's a difficult thing he's going through."
(SHEESH - what about his VICTIM? What about an APOLOGY and MAKING AMENDS?? we will update you as we get more information on this story - Fighter)