The Center Moriches home where eight-year-old Thomas Valva froze to death in the garage looks like anything but a “house of horrors” as has been described by Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Kerriann Kelly. No one would guess by looking at the expansive four bedroom house the tragedy that took place here or all the anguish that little Thomas and Anthony Valva must have suffered on a daily basis.
Now the property is listed for auction that is scheduled for the same day that Angela Pollina, who was found guilty in his death, is set for sentencing.
The jury reached a unanimous verdict Friday, finding Pollina guilty of second-degree murder in Thomas’s death. She was also found guilty of four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Pollina’s sentencing is set for April 11. According to a post by Xome.com, the Valva/Pollina home, located at 11 Bittersweet Lane, will be “sold through the applicable foreclosure auction process”, also on April 11, at 11 a.m. The in-person auction will be held at the April foreclosure sale at Brookhaven Town Hall, the site said.
Pollina’s attorney Matthew Tuohy confirmed that the auction is scheduled. He also said, after the jury found Pollina guilty, that he plans to appeal and that she will “continue to fight.”
The house, owned by Pollina, played an important role in the abuse that eventually led to the death of Thomas. During the trial, Valva’s defense team painted an image of Valva as a man stressed over finances, who had nowhere to go with his boys if he had to leave the home he shared with Pollina. The boys were autistic and had serious developmental problems such as incontinence. That’s the main reason that Valva exiled them to the garage, where the fecal incontinence would not create as much damage as inside the house. Valva defused Pollina’s anger and threats of eviction by relegating the boys to the garage.
A former nanny who had been hired to care for them at one time stated, “They were kids, they messed up sometimes and because of their disability they had a hard time understanding why what they did was not good behavior. I would disagree with Angela; their behavior was not bad. They would even listen in on my conversations with the children when I would try and tell them it was going to be okay. But to lock a child in 19 degree temps overnight — I’m disgusted.”
It was because of Pollina, Kelly said, that Thomas was outside the morning in the freezing cold, being hosed down with icy water after having soiled himself, because she had for months refused to let the boys use the bathrooms in the house or wash inside.
On the last day of the trial, Pollina testified that texts she’d written described the brothers as “dirty, stinky, filthy little boys. So she locked them up like caged animals because she didn’t want them to stink up her house,” Kelly said.
Teachers and the principal from East Moriches Elementary School offered emotional testimony, as they did in Valva’s trial, describing the boys, who came to school bruised, soaked in urine, starving, and always cold.
Jurors convicted Valva of second-degree murder and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child in November and he was sentenced to 25 years to life behind bars in December.
In June, a judge ruled that portions of the $200 million lawsuit filed by Zubko-Valva after Thomas died can move forward, a judge ruled.
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