By Sarina Trangle
Hours after a Manhattan judge sentenced the so-called Cannibal Cop to a year of supervised release, prosecutors submitted an appeal asking that the Forest Hills man’s initial conviction of planning to kidnap, kill and eat women stand, prosecutors said.
Manhattan Federal Court Judge Paul Gardephe sentenced Gilberto Valle Wednesday to the year behind bars he has served during his case and a year of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office said.
Valle, a former police officer from Forest Hills, was convicted by a jury in 2013 of superseding his authorized access while searching an Federal Bureau of Investigation database for details of women prosecutors described as potential victims.
After the jury reached its verdict, Gardephe granted a request from Valle’s attorney to acquit him of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and authorize a new trial on a charge that could bring a sentence of up to life in prison.
The judge concluded prosecutors’ use of Valle’s exchanges with three alleged co-conspirators in New Jersey, England and India or Pakistan on the sexual fantasy website Dark Fetish Network did not illustrate any concrete steps taken by Valle to plot abductions.
“This is a conspiracy that existed solely in cyberspace,” Gardephe wrote in his June 2014 opinion.
Shortly after Valle was sentenced Monday, prosecutors filed an appeal requesting that the jury’s original guilty verdict on the conspiracy charge stand and that the case return to court solely for sentencing purposes.
In their appeal, prosecutors contended that the jury’s decision was supported by evidence and that Gardephe wanted the government to explain Valle’s communications above and beyond how such communications are typically handled in court.
“Far from being irrational, the jury’s verdict was well-supported by the record of Valle’s communications, preparations and post-arrest statements, which demonstrated a genuine intent to kidnap,” they wrote. “Judge Gardephe disagreed.”
Valle’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
The FBI began investigating Valle because his wife said she found graphic pornography on his computer and detailed plans to kidnap and torture women.
Agents then found chats and e-mails Valle exchanged with alleged co-conspirators, extensive files on women who prosecutors said he planned to abduct and Internet searches for rope and chloroform.
Prosecutors argued Valle took concrete steps to act on his plans, including meeting one woman he discussed online and sending a Police Benevolent Association card to another.
Valle’s attorney, Julia Gatto, argued her client never intended to hurt women and the government ignored instances where he described his online activity as mere fantasy.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.