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April 04, 2006
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Long Island officer charged with cyberstalking ex-girlfriend

The Associated Press

HAUPPAUGE, New York- A Long Island police officer has been charged with hacking into the e-mail account of a woman he met through an online dating service and posing as her in messages sent to himself and to other men.

Michael Valentine, 28, of Lake Grove, was arraigned Monday on a 197-count indictment that included charges of stalking, computer trespassing, official misconduct and tampering with evidence. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Valentine met the woman on in November and dated her for about six weeks before she broke up with him, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

The officer went into the woman's e-mail account and sent himself a message threatening that her friends would "come out of the bushes with a baseball bat and beat your brains in," prosecutors said.

Valentine also sent messages to 70 men on the dating service to indicate she was romantically interested in them, Spota said. At least twice men showed up at the woman's house to take her out on a date, he said.

Spota said computer crimes detectives determined that Valentine used a number of computers, including one that belonged to the Suffolk County Police Department.

Valentine's attorney, Paul Gianelli, said he planned to "vigorously defend" his client against the charges.

"It certainly comes as a shock to my client to be charged with a crime," Gianelli said.

Valentine, who joined the police force in 2002, has been suspended without pay.

He was scheduled to return to court on April 20.

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