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Policeman Charged With Cyberstalking

April 4, 2006

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (AP) _ A police officer named Valentine 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.

Officer Michael Valentine, 28, met the woman on Match.com last November and dated her for about six weeks before she broke up with him, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a news release.

Valentine is accused of reading her e-mail, changing her Match.com profile and sending e-mails using her name.

He went into her account and, posing as her, sent himself an e-mail threatening that her friends would ``come out of the bushes with a baseball bat and beat your brains in,″ prosecutors said.

He also sent Match.com messages to 70 men on the dating service to falsely 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 because they were under the mistaken impression she wanted to go out with them, Spota said.

Valentine pleaded not guilty. His lawyer, Paul Gianelli, said he planned to ``vigorously defend″ his client.

``It certainly comes as a shock to my client to be charged with a crime,″ Gianelli 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, who joined the police force in 2002, was arraigned Monday on a 197-count indictment that included charges of stalking, computer trespassing, official misconduct and tampering with evidence. He was released on his own recognizance and was scheduled to return to court on April 20.

He has been suspended from his job without pay.

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