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Arrest made in
alleged gay bashing of former Top Chef contestant

Arrest made in
alleged gay bashing of former Top Chef contestant

The Nassau County [N.Y.] Police Department has made an arrest in association with the alleged gay-bashing incident in Sea Cliff that involved former Top Chef reality series contestant Josie Smith-Malave.

The Nassau County Police Department in New York has made an arrest in association with the alleged gay-bashing incident in Sea Cliff that involved former Top Chef reality series contestant Josie Smith-Malave.

Matthew W. Walli, 20, of Oregon turned himself in to authorities early Thursday and, after giving testimony about the incident on Labor Day weekend, was arrested for second-degree robbery, said police spokesman Det. Lt. Kevin Smith.

"Basically, we had a name that we circulated around the Sea Cliff area, and I guess [Walli] put one and one together and decided we were looking for him," said Smith. "He voluntarily came in, and based on things that he said he was arrested."

Smith-Malave, an out lesbian, says she and two other women were victimized outside a bar called Partners on Labor Day weekend by a group of about 12 people, including three women, who spat on them, punched them, and made antigay comments such as "bush muncher." During the altercation Smith-Malave's mini camcorder, valued at about $800, was stolen. The Advocate has an exclusive interview with the former Top Chef star about the incident here.

Second-degree robbery is a class C felony, which could be bumped up to a class B felony during the judicial proceedings if the robbery is determined to be a bias-related crime. Class B felonies carry a sentence of anywhere from five to 25 years. Walli could also be charged with aggravated harassment as more details emerge.

Smith said the investigation is ongoing as the department continues to canvass for names and that other individuals may still be arrested. He encouraged people to contact the department's crime stopper division if they have any information about the incident: (800) 244-TIPS or Crimestoppers@pdcn.org.

Smith-Malave's attorney, Yetta G. Kurland, said she is pleased by the police department's quick response. "I'm glad to see that the Nassau County Police Department and the district attorney are moving forward on this matter swiftly. It's the first of what I hope to be many arrests," Kurland said. (Kerry Eleveld, The Advocate)

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