Asst. D.A: Accused Burglars Used Prostitute to Case Home Ahead of Break-in
A Cortland County man who is accused of breaking into a home on Lime Hollow Road in Cortlandville last March is set to head to trial later this month in Cortland County Court.
40 year old Brian Valentino of East Main Street, Cortland appeared in County Court Thursday for pretrial hearings. Valentino is facing felony burglary and other charges in connection with the break-in.
Valentino along with 29 year old Michael Betters of 22 Crandall Street are accused of breaking into the Cortlandville home.
Police say the two men initially tried to kick in the front door on the home, unsuccessful they entered the home through a basement window.
The teenage son of the property owner was home at the time and called police, Cortland County Sheriff's Deputies arrived just in time to see the men run from the back of the home. The men had taken jewelry and a television set, they dropped the TV as they fled.
Deputies found Betters hiding in the wooded area near the home, Valentino was located a short distance away on East Holl Road.
Yesterday, County Assistant D-A Christine Ferraro argued that the court should allow four phone calls that Valentino made from the Cortland County jail as evidence in his upcoming trial. Ferraro said the calls are between Valentino and a woman named Audrey Smith, Ferraro says Smith is a known prostitute and in those calls Valentino discusses her prostitution activity and its connection to the Cortlandville break-in.
In Court Ferraro said that Smith offered her services to the victim and in turn used the opportunity to survey the Lime Hollow house and identify valuables and drugs in the home, Smith then relayed that information to Valentino ahead of the break-in.
Prosecutors also want to to introduce Valentino's criminal record in the trial, Valentino has several convictions dating back to 1995; including robbery, assault, and burglary.
Ferraro also indicated that Betters would be taking a plea deal ahead of the trial and is expected to testify against Valentino at the trial.
Back in November Betters was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison after he was convicted of selling Heroin following a jury trial last October.
Ferraro did say that her office has made to plea offers to Valentino, he pleads guilty to the top charge she would recommend a 10 year prison term, if he pleads guilty and cooperates with the investigation she would recommend 5 year prison term.
Valentino's trial is set to start on January 27th.