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Burbank police officers placed on leave identified

August 09, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Sources have confirmed the identities of the two police officers placed on administrative leave in recent months.

Burbank police officers Anthony Valento — who has been outspoken about problems facing the department in the past — and Jhonathan Martinez are both currently on paid administrative leave, according to multiple sources who declined to be named.

City officials would not reveal the reasons for the disciplinary actions, citing personnel privacy laws.

Valento and Martinez are among three officers in recent months to be placed on paid leave. The third officer — Mark Armendariz, former president of the Burbank Police Officers’ Assn. — was fired last month for reasons city officials have declined to divulge.

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The three cases are unrelated, according to Police Chief Scott LaChasse.

Claudio Losacco, who took over as president of the police officers’ association after Armendariz was let go, said the organization takes all discipline matters “very seriously” and “will make sure any members facing discipline are afforded all their rights provided by law.” This is the exact same statement Losacco made following news of Armendariz’ firing.

Valento, who served on the department’s gang detail for several years, is a 17-year veteran with the department. In 2010, he testified that the department had failed to respond to complaints from officers and retaliated against them, according to his testimony during a deposition taken for a five-plaintiff discrimination lawsuit filed against the city the year before.

Valento also reported witnessing department members — including former Police Chief Tim Stehr — making racially derogatory comments and jokes, according to records.

Valento served on the board of directors of the police union for six years. He resigned in 2009 due to “differences in philosophy” with other board members, according to his deposition.

In 2002, Valento and his brother were awarded $80,000 after a jury ruled the pair was wrongfully arrested at an Offspring concert at the Universal Amphitheater two years earlier. Valento was off-duty at the time.

Martinez, a Burroughs High School graduate who was born in El Salvador, was hired by the department roughly four years ago, according to a 2009 issue of Beyond the Badge, an online magazine produced by the police union.

As a U.S. Marine, Martinez “engaged in heavy combat” in Iraq, and earned numerous decorations such as the Combat Action Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Rifle Expert Badge, the magazine stated.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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