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Officer Charged With Cyber-Stalking His Ex

April 04, 2006|Erik German | Newsday

MELVILLE, N.Y. — A police officer seeking revenge against a former girlfriend hacked into the woman's e-mail account, assumed her identity at an online dating service and contacted 70 men, inviting some of them for rendezvous at the woman's home, Suffolk County prosecutors charged Monday in a 197-count indictment.

Investigators declined to identify the woman, whom they said discovered the scheme when strangers began appearing at her house, claiming she had solicited their visits via Match.com, the Internet dating service.

Suffolk County Dist. Atty. Thomas Spota brought the indictment against Michael Valentine, 28, of Lake Grove, N.Y. It charged him with stalking, computer tampering and aggravated harassment, among other crimes.

"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."

Valentine pleaded not guilty at his arraignment and was released on his own recognizance.

There was no answer Monday at 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, did not return phone calls.

Prosecutors said Valentine's revenge scheme began in November after a six-week relationship that the couple had begun 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 guessed that his former girlfriend had chosen as a password the name of her dog.

Match.com spokeswoman Maida Goodman said the company would cooperate with the investigation.

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