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Judge denies bail to NYPD officer in murder-for-hire case

Suspended NYPD officer Valerie Cincinelli appears in matrimonial

Suspended NYPD officer Valerie Cincinelli appears in matrimonial court on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A federal judge denied bail Friday for an NYPD officer accused in a murder-for-hire plot because of "clear and convincing evidence" that she remains a danger to the alleged victims.

U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Feuerstein noted Valerie Cincinelli's "lack of impulse control and remorse and her defensiveness" in a psychological evaluation and wrote that she had also been accused of destroying evidence — two iPhones — around the time of her arrest in May on charges of trying to kill her estranged husband and her boyfriend's teenage daughter.

Cincinelli, 35, of Oceanside, has been held without bail after pleading not guilty to two counts of murder for hire and one count of obstruction of justice.

At the time of her arrest, the 12-year NYPD veteran had been on a modified assignment without a gun for two years because of domestic incidents, an NYPD spokesman said then.

"The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that defendant poses a danger to the safety of the allegedly intended victims and the community, particularly in light of the serious risk that defendant would attempt to obstruct justice, as evidenced by her alleged conduct in destroying and/or attempting to destroy evidence prior to her arrest and her disobedience of court directives while in custody," the judge wrote.

Prosecutors said the veteran officer wanted to kill her husband because he would get part of her police pension in a divorce and argued that she was jealous of her boyfriend's relationship with his teenage daughter. Government recordings caught her talking about the plot, including her bank withdrawal of $7,000 pay to the "hit man," records show. The boyfriend reported Cincinelli to authorities and became an informant, according to court papers.

Cincinelli's attorney, James Kousouros of Manhattan, did not immediately return a call Friday.

During a bail hearing in June, Kousouros had argued that a large bail would ensure Cincinelli's return for court appearances and said her cellphone texts and other communications were being misinterpreted. Cincinelli and her husband were on the verge of a divorce agreement, the attorney said, and Cincinelli was angry with her boyfriend because he owed her $15,000 but was buying luxury goods for his daughter.

In her decision, Feuerstein acknowledged that standards favor setting bail for a defendant except when lives may be in danger. She ruled that Kousouros' bail offer did not address protection for the husband and boyfriend's daughter and the possibility that she would destroy other evidence.

The judge said she was more swayed by the government's points and took into account Cincinelli's history. 

She wrote, "The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that there is no condition or combination of conditions of release that could be imposed which would reasonably assure the safety of the allegedly intended victims and the community."

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