Angela Pollina Found Guilty in Murder of 8-year-old Thomas Valva

Center Moriches
L. to R.: Thomas Valva was a third-grade student at East Moriches Elementary School. The boy’s father, Michael Valva, and live-in fiancee, Angela Pollina, have been found guilty of murder in the boy’s death.

Angela Pollina Found Guilty in Murder of 8-year-old Thomas Valva

Angela Pollina was found guilty for the murder of 8-year-old Thomas Valva after about a two-week trial, and after her fiancé, Michael Valva, was sentenced to 25 years to life in December 2022 for the boy’s death.

Pollina was convicted on all the same charges as Valva was: second degree murder and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child for the abuse of Thomas and his brother, Anthony, who was 10 years old at the time. Pollina faces 25 years to life in prison.

Pollina, 45, and Valva, 43, a former New York City police officer, left Thomas and his brother to sleep overnight in an unheated garage at their Center Moriches home when temperatures dropped to 19 degrees.

Suffolk County police officers responded to Valva and his fiance’s Bittersweet Lane home at 9:40 a.m. Jan. 17, 2020, when the father initially told responding officers that the boy was unconscious after hitting his head while walking to the bus stop on his way to school.

The child, who reportedly had autism, was taken to Long Island Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His body temperature was 76 degrees at the time. He also had injuries that did not appear to be from a fall, police said.

In her testimony, Pollina admitted to leaving the boys in the garage and said she was “evil.”

Homicide Squad detectives found evidence that Thomas and  Anthony were subjected to extreme forms of punishment, including being starved. The couple’s four other children were removed from the home after their arrests days after Thomas’s murder. The NYPD fired Valva, who joined the force in 2005 and was assigned to transit.

The case sparked a county legislative probe, rallies and reforms of the county’s Child Protective Services agency, which critics blamed for not removing the children from the home sooner after concerned school officials called in tips about the boys being neglected.

Joshua Hanson, executive director of The Safe Center, a Long Island organization that aids abuse victims, noted in a statement after the verdict was announced that there must be a systemic response to child abuse going forward.

“No guilty verdict will bring an innocent boy back to life,” he said. “And it doesn’t make other children on Long Island and elsewhere safe from the abuse they may be experiencing at this very moment. There were enormous failures in the system that should have protected Thomas Valva.”

After Valva’s sentencing, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney said, “this case is heartbreaking, and it has been one of the toughest child abuse trials for our prosecutors, court personnel and jurors. No child should ever have to endure such evil acts.”