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Saturday, April 21, 2007


6-12-1992 New York: UPDATED

John Valverde, 22, of Queens, who killed his girlfriend's alleged rapist, was sentenced Thursday to a minimum of 10 years and maximum of 30 years in prison by Acting State Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman, who denounced his "self-help" revenge effort.

Valverde, an honor student at Hunter College, was convicted May 21 of first-degree manslaughter and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon by a Manhattan jury. He shot Joel Schoenfeld, 45, a convicted sex criminal, through the head on Jan .... ..more..

Arrests in a Killing Police Say Was Revenge

9-8-1991 New York:

Revenge for a rape last year was the motive for the killing of a photographer in January, the police said last week, after they arrested two men and charged one of them with the shooting.

In announcing the arrest of John Valverde, 21 years old, the police said that the photographer, Joel Schoenfeld, had a history of abusing female models who posed for him, regularly luring young women to his studio through newspaper advertisements that promised a career in fashion modeling. He was found dead in his Greenwich Village studio on Jan. 5, shot once in the head.

Acting on a lead from the Tampa, Fla., police, officers tracked Mr. Valverde on Wednesday to his home in Ozone Park, Queens and charged him with second-degree murder.

A witness to the killing identified Mr. Valverde after his arrest, the police said. A second suspect, Arnell Medina, 22, was arrested for loaning Mr. Valverde the handgun that the police believe was used in the killing.

Mr. Valverde's 19-year-old girlfriend had answered a newspaper ad in June, 1990, and Mr. Schoenfeld apparently proposed that she perform secretarial duties in his studio in lieu of paying for photo lab and other fees as he prepared her portfolio.

After three days of work, the girlfriend told the police, Mr. Schoenfeld raped her during a picture-taking session. She did not report the assault at the time, the police said. They said they had received several other allegations of sexual abuse by Mr. Schoenfeld.

Mr. Valverde went to the photographer's studio at 375 West Street shortly after 10 A.M. on Jan. 5 of this year, the police said, telling Mr. Schoenfeld that he needed a photo portfolio prepared for his girlfriend.

An assistant to Mr. Schoenfeld, who was in the apartment at the time of the shooting, told investigators in January that after the suspect arrived, wearing a baseball cap and a blue sweatshirt, Mr. Schoenfeld spoke with him briefly and went into another room to check some records.

Mr. Schoenfeld became angry, the witness remembered, and started to argue with the suspect, who then pulled out a handgun and shot the photographer once in the head. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Saint Vincent's Hospital. Phone Call From Tampa

Capt. James O'Neill of the Manhattan Detective Bureau said that the police had not identified Mr. Valverde as a suspect when they received information on him from the police in Tampa on Sept. 3.

"It was a telephone call from the Tampa Police Department, saying that a Mr. Valverde from Queens, New York, may have been involved in the murder of a photographer in New York City," said Captain O'Neill. He declined to describe the original source of the information or to say how the information was received.

On the following day, Captain O'Neill said, Mr. Valverde was found and arrested at his home at 94-05 Forbell Street in Queens. He was then identified by the witness to the killing, Captain O'Neill added. Handgun Was Recovered

Mr. Valverde gave a detailed statement, the police said, but they declined to disclose the nature of his remarks.

The handgun was recovered from Mr. Medina, who was charged with weapons possession and criminal facilitation. He had been friends with Mr. Valverde since they were six years old, the police said. Each was enrolled as a non-matriculated student at Queensborough Community College for two semesters in the 1990-1991 academic year, a college official confirmed, studying biology and physics. Waited 7 Months

Captain O'Neill said he did not know why Mr. Valverde had waited until seven months after the original incident to act.

He said there was no evidence that the girlfriend was connected with the slaying in a direct way. He said she had been interviewed by the police, but he also said that the police had no independent evidence of the alleged assault in June, 1990. ..Source.. by Seth Faison Jr.


4-9-2007 New York:

A Queens man who shot and killed a serial sex abuser who'd raped his girlfriend has been denied parole three times, despite a sterling record behind bars.

John Valverde's exemplary conduct in prison - which includes earning college degrees, teaching other inmates and speaking out against violence - has gotten him letters of support over the years from prison guards, politicians and even the late John Cardinal O'Connor.

But the Parole Division keeps ignoring his pleas for freedom, saying he has "contempt for human life and total indifference for the law."

Nothing could be further from the truth, said Fernando Mateo, of Hispanics Across America, which is backing Valverde's bid for freedom, as are a group of Columbia law students who are filing suit on Valverde's behalf this week.

The suit calls the decision "irrational," and seeks to have a judge order a new parole hearing.

"He's shown remorse. He's rehabilitated. He deserves a chance to live again, to come out into society and show what kind of man he's become," Mateo said.

Valverde was a 21-year-old college student with no criminal record when he gunned down Joel Schoenfeld on Jan. 5, 1991.

Schoenfeld, 47, used his job as a freelance photographer to lure women into his Greenwich Village loft, where police said he'd sexually assault and rape them.

One of his victims was Valverde's 19-year-old girlfriend, whom he'd attacked after Valverde dropped her off at his Greenwich Village loft.

Valverde went to police on three occasions to try to get them to arrest Schoenfeld, who was on probation for sexually assaulting two other women.

They told him they couldn't do anything without the girlfriend's cooperation, but she was too traumatized to press charges. When Schoenfeld started calling the girlfriend, Valverde borrowed a gun from a friend and went to his loft.

After an argument, Valverde shot Schoenfeld in the head.

A jury cleared Valverde of murder charges, but he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 to 30 years.

While behind bars, Valverde finished college, got a master's degree, was certified as a paralegal, worked as a teacher's aide helping fellow inmates to read and write, taught theology and worked as an HIV/AIDS counselor.

Even a correction officer wrote a letter supporting his release, calling him "the perfect example of a model prisoner."

But Parole has been unmoved.

"The violence displayed in this crime outweighs everything else," the division said last year. ..more.. by DAREH GREGORIAN

The Politics of Incarceration

4-18-2007 New York:

Former Governor George Pataki's legacy of not freeing rehabilitated violent offenders is alive and well in New York State. Today thousands of parole petitioners are ready to return to society as productive citizens but remain stuck in prison because of the politics of incarceration.

This unwritten policy persists in spite of newly installed Governor Elliot Spitzer's attempt to correct the criminal justice sector, as evidenced by his recent calls to remove the exorbitant charges on collect calls made from prisons and curtail the expensive maintenance of half-empty prisons.

Statistically it is a not-so-well-known fact that offenders that commit crimes such as murder are actually less likely to return to jail than nonviolent offenders. Nevertheless, after completing their sentences and coming to terms with their crimes, they are still wasting away in New York State gulags. Time and again the parole board fails to weigh all of the relevant statutory factors together with the prisoner's positive accomplishments and productive behavior while incarcerated. Instead, the parole board focuses almost entirely on the nature of the petitioner's crime.

A case in point is the story of John Valverde, a 36-year-old Queens man who recently was denied parole for his third consecutive time. He has already served 15 years of a 10- to 30-year sentence for ending the life of a freelance photographer, Joel Schoenfeld, a 47-year-old West Village photographer with a history of enticing young female models to his studio and sexually assaulting them.

In 1991, Schoenfeld raped his 19-year-old model girlfriend. After unsuccessfully seeking help from the police - powerless to act without the brutalized and traumatized victim coming forward - John Valverde, then a 21-year-old student, confronted Schoenfeld. The ensuing argument turned violent and John shot and killed Schoenfeld. The single bullet fired that night changed not only John's life forever but also that of his family. His mother, brother and sister have fought endlessly to free John and themselves from the nightmare of his continuing ordeal behind bars.

John regrets the act he committed ending the life of an individual who took the honor away his former girlfriend many years ago. I know this because I was with John during his time of remorsefulness at Sing Sing prison when I was serving a 15-to-life sentence under the Rockefeller Drug Laws. In 1995, we both graduated from the New York Theological Seminary. Despite the negative environment that surrounded him, John managed to transcend the prison experience by finding purpose in his life through helping others. He taught religion, volunteered as a tutor for men who could not read, and worked with AIDS patients.

The hard time John served in a maximum security prison transformed him from the 21-year-old boy who had made the biggest mistake of his life into a man who now understands the horror of his crime. Apparently all inconsequential in the view of the parole board, which offered the following reasoning in John's case: "The violence displayed in this crime outweighs everything else." ..more.. by Anthony Pappa, The Huffington Post

No parole for New York vigilante

7-3-2007 New York:

ALBANY, N.Y. (UPI) -- A 36-year-old New York City man, jailed for killing a rapist 16 years ago, has been denied parole, despite his clean prison record.

John Valverde was sentenced to a 10- to 30-year prison sentence for killing photographer Joel Schoenfeld, the man who raped his girlfriend, in January 1991.

A college student at the time, Valverde has said the gun went off when he went to Schoenfeld's apartment to scare him so he would stay away from Valverde's girlfriend, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

An Albany, N.Y., judge recently rejected Valverde's request for parole, stating the parole board's decision to keep him in jail "does not exhibit irrationality bordering on impropriety."

While some people might find the ruling harsh, New York State Supreme Court Justice George Ceresia stated it is "also true that many other rational minds would reach the same conclusion."

Valverde's lawyer brother, Frank, told the Post he was "disappointed" by the decision. ..more.. by UPI

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