Thomas Valva was 8 years old when he died after allegedly spending a night in a cold garage
An NYPD transit cop charged with murder of his eight-year-old son has quit the force so that he can keep a portion of his pension.
Michael Valva, 41, has been charged in the murder of his 8-year-old son, Thomas, who was allegedly starved, beaten and locked outside their Long Island home. He died of hypoterhmia after sleeping in an unheated garage on a freezing night on January 17.
Valva and his fiancée, 42-year-old Angela Pollina, have been charged with second-degree murder in Thomas’ death.
Valva was given custoday of Thomas and his brother in September 2017 despite desperate pleas from Thomas’ biological mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, and concerns from school officials that they were being abused.
While Valva is awaiting his trial next year, he has made the decision to resign from the NYPD, rather than face disciplinary action from the police force.
John LoTurco, Michael Valva’s lawyer, did this so he can protect what was already in his pension, the New York Daily News reports.
‘The NYPD offered him a resignation without a disciplinary hearing, and that allowed him not to admit any culpability and just resign, allowed him to keep his pension,’ LoTurco said. ‘But in exchange, there’s no salary going forward.’
Resigning will also allow Valva to retain his benefits for the foreseeable future.
His father, Michael Zubka, 41, has been accused of second-degree murder in Thomas’ death
Valva’s fiancée, 42-year-old Angela Pollina, has been charged with second-degree murder in Thomas’ death. There has been no trial date set
It’s unclear how much of Valva’s pension will be available, but the minimum amount of years needed to contribute to the fund is 20, according to the police pension website.
If someone resigns before those 20 years, they can take their money out of the fund, but it will be taxed unless it is transferred to an IRA.
The New York Post reports the average pension for a retired police officer hovers around $75,000 annually.
This is the second time in as many days an NYPD officer has resigned before any discipline could be levied against them.
Michael resigned from the NYPD after 15 years Wednesday so that he could keep his pension
Thomas was one of six children in Mike and Angela’s care who were living at the home at the time the little boy died. Thomas’ brothers have since been placed in the custody of their mother while Pollina’s daughters were placed in the custody of their biological fathers
In cases of excessive police force, resigning could also be seen as a tactic to try to lessen the need for criminal proceedings.
That won’t be the case for Valva, however, who is still facing 25 years to life in prison for the death of his son if he is found guilty.
Authorities were dispatched to the home where Thomas had been living at about 9.40am on January 17 after his father said the boy had fallen in the driveway and lost consciousness while running for the school bus.
Responding officers found Valva performing CPR on Thomas in the basement.
The little boy was rushed to Long Island Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
He was allegedly forced to sleep in the garage the night before, despite it being 19F outside, with no blankets.
Thomas’ cause of death was determined to be hypothermia.
According to police, cameras and microphones that had been set up in Mike Valva’s home captured audio of him and Angela taunting Thomas as he froze to death.
The audio files allegedly recorded the couple discussing the fact that Thomas was suffering from hypothermia, had been washed with cold water, couldn’t walk and was ‘face-planting’ on the concrete.
They laughed as they said ‘he’s hypothermic’ and that he had ‘face-planted’ the floor.
Pollina remarked: ‘You know why he’s falling?’.
Valva replied: ‘Because he’s cold…. boo f*****g hoo’.
Thomas’ death has since prompted an investigation into the social services department and how it dealt with abuse allegations against the couple and the children who lived with them.
A separate task force will examine how the department handles cases of children with developmental disabilities.
Following his death, Thomas’ brothers were placed in the custody of their mother.
Pollina’s daughters were placed in the custody of their biological fathers.
HISTORY OF VALVA CASE
Michael Valva, 41, stands accused of second-degree murder and child endangerment in the death of his son, Thomas, 8, who was on the autism spectrum and was left to freeze in a garage overnight in January.
February 4, 2011: Justyna Zubko-Valva, Michael Valva’s now-estranged wife, accused Michael of verbal and financial abuse.
September 14, 2011: Thomas Valva is born.
Late 2014: Zubko-Valva accuses Valva of having an affair with Angela Pollina.
2015: Divorce proceedings between Zubko-Valva and Valva begin.
July 2016: Zubko-Valva accuses Valva of child abuse, including starvation, dehydration, and a lack of medical care for son Anthony when he had a fever.
September 2017: Valva is awarded temporary custody, with Zubko-Valva getting unsupervised visits every other weekend.
Fall 2017: East Moriches Elementary School staff expresses concerns of abuse in the Valva home.
January 2018: Thomas and Anthony both accuse Zubko-Valva of abuse after meeting with a CPS worker.
April 2018: School psychologist Renee Emin sees bruises on Thomas, which she’s told Valva gave him.
February 2019: CPS report states Anthony goes to school with urine soakings.
March 2019: CPS report again cites potential malnutrition, along with garage punishments.
May 2019: CPS report states Valva threw a book bag at Thomas’ head.
January 16, 2020: Thomas and Anthony are allegedly forced to sleep in the freezing garage overnight with blankets, pillows, or mattresses.
January 17, 2020: Suffolk County Police respond to 911 call after Thomas falls in driveway. He is pronounced dead at Long Island Community Hospital.
January 24, 2020: Valva and Pollina are arrested and charged with second-degree murder and child endangerment.
February 2020: Valva tells Suffolk Family Court he has been fired, but police claim he was simply suspended without pay.
June 2020: Zubko-Valva files $200 million lawsuit against officials for failing to heed her warnings about the abuse Thomas was facing.
October 28, 2020: Valva resigns from the NYPD with his pension intact.