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Appeals court denies release of suspended NYPD cop charged with murder-for-hire

Suspended NYPD cop Valerie Cincinelli appears in Matrimonial

Suspended NYPD cop Valerie Cincinelli appears in Matrimonial court on June 12, 2019 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A federal appellate court Thursday turned down a request to be released on bond by a suspended New York City police officer accused of a murder-for-hire scheme to kill both her estranged husband and the daughter of her boyfriend.

In a two-sentence decision without elaboration, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit in Manhattan ruled that “Upon due consideration, it is hereby ordered that the district court’s order denying pretrial release and temporary release is affirmed.”

 Valerie Cincinelli, 35, of Oceanside, was appealing an April decision by U.S. District Judge Sandra Feuerstein in Central Islip, also denying her release on bond.

James Kousouros, Cincinelli’s defense attorney, had argued before Feuerstein that a $1.5 million bond, along with having his client live with her father, a retired New York City police lieutenant, would be sufficient to allow her to be released.

In addition, Kousouros argued that Cincinelli had not intended to have anyone murdered, and contended that the boyfriend, who is now a government witness, had provided false information to federal officials. The defense attorney said that a key part of the alleged scheme, a $7,000 payment that Cincinelli had allegedly given the boyfriend to hire a hit man, was actually to purchase gold coins.

Kousouros has also said conditions at the federal jail in Brooklyn were dangerous to Cincinelli’s health because of the coronavirus pandemic. He had said his client told him that she was assigned to washing clothing of coronavirus-infected inmates without any protective equipment.

But Eastern District federal prosecutors Anthony Bagnuola and Catherine Mirabile scoffed at this claim, saying that Cincinelli was only assigned to fold laundered clothing and had volunteered for the job.

Further, prosecutors Bagnuola and Mirabile said Cincinelli had told a friend in an email that she was provided with a mask and gloves in the laundry.

The exchange between the defense attorney and prosecutors prompted Feuerstein to ask Kousouros how carefully he had examined his client’s claims.

Kousouros replied that it was difficult to get information from jail officials.

Feuerstein had held Cincinelli without bond as a potential danger to the alleged victims and the community.

The suspended police officer was arrested in May 2019 on two counts of murder-for-hire and one count of obstruction of justice.

 If Cincinelli, who has pleaded not guilty, is convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.

Cincinelli’s attorney Kousouros said of the decision: “ We’re very disappointed. We firmly believe she should be out on bail.”

Asked if he planned an appeal, Kousouros said: “ We are always considering options.”

Spokesman for Eastern District prosecutors, John Marzulli, declined to comment.

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