Angela Pollina Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Prison for Death of 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 Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Prison for Death of Thomas Valva

Angela Pollina received the maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison on Tuesday for the murder of 8-year-old Thomas Valva, who she and her fiancé, Michael Valva, left in a freezing garage in Center Moriches in early 2020, leading to his death.

Valva, Thomas’s father and a former New York City police officer, received the same sentence in December 2022. On March 10, Pollina was found guilty of 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.

“The cruelty that Thomas and his brother had to endure because of this defendant’s callous and selfish conduct is abhorrent, and, thankfully, the jury clearly agreed,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. “Her treatment of these children was nothing short of pure evil. This defendant will now face the consequences of her actions and will experience her own imprisonment just as she forced these boys to live imprisoned in a freezing garage. Unlike Thomas and his brother, Pollina deserves this punishment.”

angela pollina
Angela PollinaCourtesy Suffolk DA

Pollina, 45, and Valva, 44, left Thomas and his brother to sleep overnight in an unheated garage 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.” She did not speak at her sentencing on Tuesday.

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 sentencing was announced that there must be a systemic response to child abuse going forward.

“While [Pollina’s] sentencing today won’t bring Thomas back and doesn’t make other children safer, it is an important step in holding those guilty accountable for the death of a child,” Hanson said. “We remain hopeful that there will be an investigation into the breakdown of the systems that enabled this neglect and abuse to continue unchecked. It is the least we can do for Thomas’ memory.”