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Valenti’s: Where are they Now?

A little over a year ago, then-Buffalo News restaurant critic Janice Okun reviewed a seemingly pedestrian and typical red sauce joint that had recently opened in a plaza in North Tonawanda.

In ten years of blogging, no other series of blog posts I’ve ever done so completely unraveled some bad journalism, a pack of clumsy lies, or generated quite as much conversation in comments and social media. The saga of Valenti’s will go down in the annals of western New York’s culinary lore. 

 At the time, it was fun to deconstruct Okun’s reviews, and how they emphasized booth comfort while de-emphasizing food taste and quality. Yet the Valenti’s review was different, because Okun’s review recounted how the young owner-chef had recently returned to his native western New York after stints as an executive chef in Texas and Florida. But that’s not all – Valenti was reportedly so accomplished that he supposedly competed against – and defeated – celebrity chef Bobby Flay on the TV program “Iron Chef America”. This was a lie. It was alleged that Mr. Valenti’s culinary excellence had rendered the lowly parsnip into something so delightful that the judges were floored.  Here is a snippet from Okun’s review, which I annotated at the time: 

To this day, I don’t know what constitutes “parsnip cuisine”, nor do I understand how it could be the “parsnips that did it” if, apparently, they were the secret ingredient for the fictional episode on which Valenti never appeared.  In fact, the image shown above reflects the Buffalo News’ first edit of the review, to remove a mention that Valenti had appeared on Iron Chef America in 2003. At that time, no such show existed. Valenti also claimed to have graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1993 – another lie confirmed by that institution’s spokesman, Jeff Levine. By the end of that particular Friday, Okun’s review in the online Gusto was changed to read thusly: 

As it turned out, he never could have been a cook at Mama Leone’s, either, as it had long since closed by the time he allegedly graduated from the CIA

But don’t blame Ms. Okun – she was doing what a lot of journalists do; transcribing press releases almost verbatim.

But Valenti’s had bigger problems than just a cook with a false resume. Terry Valenti and his girlfriend Lori Brocuglio opened the restaurant with a partner in September 2011. It was a problem tenant for plaza owner Frank Budwey almost from day one. By early February, Valenti’s was evicted for failing to pay back rent. It had loads of debt and a trail of people who had been taken advantage of.  Among them was Valenti’s and Brocuglio’s nominal “partner” in the business, Melissa Janiszewski, who had signed on for all the business’ liabilities, but had no access to the restaurant’s finances, no signing privileges on the business’ accounts, and (ultimately luckily for her), was not named on the lease.  It appeared to be was a bust-out scenario, where Valenti and Brocuglio used Janiszewski’s good credit to run up debt, skip town, and leave her holding the bag. Luckily, she got wise and sought help, but not soon enough to avoid a bankruptcy filing. 

Dramatically, during the late January 2012 eviction trial in North Tonawanda City Court, Terry Valenti was taken into custody on a Texas felony warrant for forgery. After losing his job at Captain Hiram’s in Florida, Valenti moved to Texas, where he cooked at a retirement community in Odessa. Valenti stands accused of forging an ex-girlfriend’s name on a Power of Attorney and title, to fraudulently transfer a motor vehicle for his benefit. The whole saga is available here, with an innocuous takedown of a Janice Okun “review”, updated herehereherehereherehere, and here.)

So, where are they now? 

By late February, Budwey had contracted with Cash Auctions to sell off the contents of Valenti’s Restaurant. The building now houses North Tonawanda’s own branch of Mighty Taco. 

In April 2012, a Midland County Texas grand jury indicted Valenti on the forgery charge. Interestingly, around that same time, there was a rumor that Valenti was back in western New York, looking to start up a new restaurant on Delaware Avenue, and was supposedly trying to recruit people who had worked for him in North Tonawanda.  This turned out never to have materialized, thankfully. 

By late June 2012, the Texas charges against Valenti were still pending, and he was appearing there in person with counsel. Meanwhile, in Florida, Valenti’s ex-wife initiated a court action seeking physical custody of their son. Lori Brocuglio’s ex-husband in Florida had custody of their son, and an action was brought to allow his new wife to adopt. Brocuglio contested the adoption, but the court instructed her that she needed physically to appear in court to testify – the problem is that there were a couple of minor warrants out for Ms. Brocuglio in that state, rendering her appearance a tricky proposition, at best. Meanwhile, Mr. Budwey’s criminal complaint against Ms. Brocuglio for grand larceny is still pending in North Tonawanda City Court and scheduled for an appearance in February. 

Meanwhile, the entire time they lived in western New York, Valenti and Brocuglio rented a living space in Eden. 

By July, Valenti had rejected a guilty plea in Texas that would have resulted in probation, court costs, and restitution. As for the adoption case involving Ms. Brocuglio, when process servers in New York attempted to serve papers on her, Valenti told them that she had moved back to Connecticut. This was quickly resolved – during the time that Mr. Valenti had to appear in Texas, they re-served papers in Eden knowing that the only person who would be home would be Ms. Brocuglio.  On July 29th, she was home, and she was served. 

But Valenti and Brocuglio attempted to fight back.  Valenti sought a temporary restraining order against Valenti’s ex-girlfriend, but failed to serve it in a way that could be enforced against a non-resident of New York. At best, it was a nullity; at worst, it was an attempt to intimidate the star witness in the Texas forgery trial. Nothing ever came of the TRO. Lori Brocuglio lost her parental rights as to the son in Florida in November on the grounds of abandonment. Terry Valenti’s ex now has physical custody of their son in New York. He is also about $13,000 in arrears on child support. There are no-contact orders imposed upon Valenti and Brocuglio in connection with these actions. The forgery action in Texas had to be re-filed and a new indictment was issued in December, and that matter is still pending. 

About that place in Eden: as you might expect, Valenti and Brocuglio ended up mistreating their landlords there, as well. They were forced to bring two eviction actions against them; the first time, they obtained an emergency rent assistance loan from Erie County, and the back rent was paid. By July 2012, the landlords were dealing primarily with Brocuglio, who indicated she was going to Texas. After the second eviction for non-payment, the judge gave Valenti and Brocuglio a week to show receipts that $3,000 was paid.  It hadn’t been. Not only did Valenti and Brocuglio skip out on back rent, but they are alleged to have stolen or sold items belonging to the landlords that were stored on the property, such as an upright air compressor, a drill press, welders, and a John Deere tractor and trailer.  The house was left in a horrible state, filled with garbage and junk. They left moldy, rotten food in the refrigerator, moldy clothes in the washer, food and garbage in the dishwasher, 36 bags of garbage, six truckloads of garbage furniture, six very large televisions, and tons of clothes and belongings left behind. Among the treats Valenti and Brocuglio left behind was shut-off of all utilities for non-payment, including $800 for electric fees. Because the electric system ultimately needed to be changed, it took three months and thousands of dollars to do so and also to clean up the property. 

Their whereabouts are not precisely known at this time, but Ms. Brocuglio’s grand larceny charge is set for an appearance in North Tonawanda City Court on February 7th.  There are also rumors swirling of new charges. 

Throughout all of this – right up to the present day – a very cohesive group of former strangers has formed, all with one thing in common – each one has been cheated or mistreated by Mr. Valenti, Ms. Brocuglio, or both. Through a bizarre set of Artvoice posts – all relating to a strange restaurant review in the Buffalo News – these people have developed a virtual support group to help each other find out where these two are, what they’re up to, whom they might be taking advantage of, and to generally vent about the wrongs done to them at the hands of Iron Chef Parsnips and his henchwoman. There have been bankruptcies, lawsuits, criminal actions, threats, harassment, child custody actions, evictions – federal, state, and interstate civil and criminal litigation has arisen as a result of two apparent sociopaths riding roughshod through the country, leaving behind a trail of debt, lies, broken lives, and broken property. The Valenti / Brocuglio fact pattern could very easily be an essay question on a bar exam. 

In the end, be nice to people. Treat them with respect, fairness, and kindness. If you don’t, you could be in for a world of hurt, and karma will indeed maintain its reputation for being a bitch. 


  • Karma’s Gonna Get Ya

    Boy, have we got lots to report, Let me get some things together…

  • Jesse Griffis

    Alan, this has been some amazing journalism. I get the feeling you’re as awed by it as many of us are.

  • Karma’s Gonna Get Ya

    I will say that Terry hasn’t learned a thing. He’s STILL claiming to have beaten Bobby Flay on the Iron Chef, and he’s STILL telling his story of his time in the Marines, and how he lost his finger by being shot. In fact, he never WAS in the Marines, and the loss of the digit, was a forklift accident. I guess he knows he’s a nothing, must be why he’s still telling his stories.

    • Ismaeal Naji

      Lying about the Marines, it’s a damn shame we can’t bring back the ‘Stolen Valor Act’ which some republicans shot down

  • MichaelRCaputo

    FIRST! Aw. Shucks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/colin.eager Colin Eager

    The amazing thing is that none of this would have come to light if the News had a competent food critic.    

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PFVLS6GHIAEDXVBSMYJES47XGQ V

    OMFG “two apparent sociopaths riding roughshod through the country”- THIS is dead on. Just perfect for these two.

  • Karma’s Gonna Get Ya

    Latest update:
    Terry was just re-arrested on the Forgery charge in Texas today, and is being processed as I write this. I’m sure he will be extradited BACK to Odessa to finally face these charges.

    There will be more to report later, as there’s some more things stirring behind the curtain.

  • sconnors13

    I’ve been waiting for this! One can only hope they take to comment board for endless entertainment. I’ll stay tuned!

  • Karma’s Gonna Get Ya

    Broom Hilda is next

  • Karma’s Gonna Get Ya

    Where they’ve been is hiding at a senior living center, Lori being the head dietician, Terry being the Chef. I’ve been told he tells everyone about beating Bobby Flay, meanwhile the clients were getting sick from his cooking. Alot of people at the place didn’t like them, and one client Googled Terry’s name, and found everything on him. These 2 lowlifes haven’t learned a thing, business as usual. I’ve got a few more things I’m checking into, there will be more stuff that unravels.

    • lissinbiotch

      Ok, so if you are not a chef, posing as a chef, that is wrong.  If you are not a dietician, but posing as one, YOU COULD KILL SOMEBODY

  • Noah Noname

    Hello Karma,
    Do you know if 81 ever caught up with him?

    • Karma’s Gonna Get Ya

       I contacted the Rochester chapter, and Sonny Barger and let them know, I guess they don’t worry about little turds.

  • Karma’s Gonna Get Ya

    The place where Terry was working was having a meeting today about his lack of skills as far as cooking due to client complaints, but I guess because he was arrested, he didn’t get to attend the meeting.  I have but one thing to say.
    LOL!

  • Karma’s Gonna Get Ya

    Look at his mugshot from today, he looks like he’s going to cry. LOL

    • Noah Noname

      He looks like he’s going to cry because that penis landing strip under his bottom lip is going to get worn off with the amount of use it’s going to get.

      • lissinbiotch

        that is just gross.  It’s all crooked.  What is wrong with him….  there are so many things between the two of them

  • Karma’s Gonna Get Ya

     http://www.jailbase.com/en/arrested/tx-dc/2013-01-24/terry-valenti-13005151

  • 90yr_old_resident

    No one caused any one at the Windsor any stress other than these two losers. They need to be gone and we will not stop till they are gone.

    • Barbara Engel

      You definitely cannot stop…. the two of them are nothing more than common criminal gypsies who leech off the hard work of others.  Their “specialty” is fraud, scams and lying.  Right about now, they’re probably telling you about an “obsessed” ex-girlfriend who is looking for revenge.  That is so far from the truth, and I AM NOT her and I have never met her but I am ANOTHER victim.  I heard the same story.  There is no “obsessed ex-girlfriend” – there is an ex-girlfriend who was taken for a lot more than we were.  And we are not the only two.  There’s more and we don’t want you to join this club.  I fell for it once too, to the point I actually thought “geez, these poor people can’t catch a break”.  My interest in this is that I have an 87-year-old dad in assisted living, and knowing what I know, I would not want these people anywhere near him. 

      Please, please tell the administrators they need to do a background check. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/PFVLS6GHIAEDXVBSMYJES47XGQ V

      Make sure you are checking your credit- if they have access to SS#s they are not above using them…

  • Karma’s Gonna Get Ya

    Read about the cleanliness of these 2 here, and realize, they’re providing food to the elderly now.
     http://www.tenantdispute.com/members/barb/activity/131/

    I will be contacting the local newspapers in Dallas, and share links with them from Artvoice, the public there has a right to know who is providing services to their elderly.

  • Karma’s Gonna Get Ya

    I contacted several news stations/papers in Dallas, I bet at least one of them will be interested in these 2 caring for the elderly in their community

  • Grigori_of_Moira

     To work as a dietitian in Texas, a license issued from the Texas Department of State Health Services is necessary! I’d like to see, Ms. Brocuglio’s license!

    Read more: Texas Requirements to Become a Registered Dietician | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/info_7793933_texas-requirements-become-registered-dietician.html#ixzz2JCI4O6xR