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Burbank officer arrested, accused of extortion scheme

October 16, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian
  • Burbank police headquarters.
Burbank police headquarters. (Times Community News )

A Burbank police officer is due in court Wednesday after he was arrested the day before by federal authorities on suspicion of taking part in an alleged extortion scheme involving his girlfriend's estranged husband.

Anthony Valento, a 17-year veteran of the Burbank Police Department, allegedly told his girlfriend Gayle Bassett's husband, who was not identified, that if he paid Bassett more than $100,000, Valento could get pending domestic violence charges against the husband reduced or dropped, the Burbank Leader reported. The money would be handed over as part of an anticipated divorce settlement, the federal criminal complaint stated.

LIVE CHAT: Reporter discusses federal arrest at 12:45 p.m.

Bassett's husband was arrested in September 2012 after allegedly throwing a bottle and bottle opener at Bassett, choking her and throwing her to the ground, according to the complaint.

Valento did not respond to the incident, but records show that he later reported Bassett's husband for multiple restraining-order violations, which resulted in additional charges being filed.

In a series of recorded conversations obtained by the FBI, Valento told Bassett's husband that if he didn't "make a deal" with her, "she's going to go full out with the [district attorney]," according to the complaint.

The restraining-order violation charges against the husband were dropped on July 30 after Burbank investigators discovered Valento had a relationship with Bassett, which drew "concerns about a conflict of interest," the complaint stated.

According to the complaint, Burbank internal affairs investigators also discovered that Valento allegedly falsified records to make it appear he was working when he wasn't. Valento was placed on paid administrative leave the next day.

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alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Twitter: @atchek / Google+

Alene Tchekmedyian is a Times Community News staff writer.

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