Legislative committee wants subpoena power in Valva case

A picture of Thomas Valva at St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church in Center Moriches on Jan. 27. Thomas died of hypothermia on Jan. 17 Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk County legislators announced Tuesday they are forming a special committee to investigate the death of Thomas Valva, an 8-year-old boy on the autism spectrum who died after authorities say he was forced to sleep in a freezing Center Moriches garage.

The committee — made up of Presiding Officer Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue), Deputy Presiding Officer Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Minority Leader Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) — will seek subpoena power to investigate the circumstances that led to Thomas’ death, officials said.

The group will review the interactions between Thomas’ family and county police, family court officials and Child Protective Services workers, officials said. Members will also examine any limitations in investigating child abuse allegations and make recommendations aimed at avoiding another tragedy, officials said.

“There are still questions that must be answered,” Calarco said, noting that officials must know what exactly happened in the case to “address the potential shortfalls of the system.”

The legislative committee, which plans to hire an expert in CPS and family court issues to assist in its investigation, is the latest group formed by county officials after Thomas’ death.

County District Attorney Timothy Sini announced Monday he planned to impanel a special grand jury to investigate the case. County Executive Steve Bellone launched an internal review of the case, and Hahn led a special task force, which included Cilmi, to make recommendations […]

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