The government has diagnosed accused "cannibal cop" Gilberto Valle with depression and moved him to a federal lockup in Brooklyn because he complained about being assigned a member of the Latin Kings gang as a bunkmate, a judge was told yesterday.
Federal defender Julia Gatto told U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe that the unexpected move from Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center late Thursday seemed like a pretext to interfere with Valle's review of evidence in preparation for a Jan. 22 trial on charges that he plotted to kidnap and eat women.
"It really feels like everyone else is conspiring against what we want -- a fair, speedy trial," Gatto said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson said the Bureau of Prisons had NYPD cop Valle's best interests at heart after he rejected his new gang cellmate, sending him to a general population unit at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn with psychiatric support.
"Mr. Valle was showing signs of depression," Jackson said.
But Gardephe said the move "completely undermined" his efforts to give Valle computer access to a massive volume of evidence. He ordered Valle returned to Manhattan immediately and gave short shrift to another government objection -- that it couldn't find a spare computer to load with the evidence for Valle.
The Manhattan U.S. attorney's office, the largest in the country, wanted the defense to come up with a computer. The judge called the claim that the government didn't have a spare computer "farcical," adding, "I'm at a loss for words that we are even having to address this."
He ordered the government to find a computer.
Valle, 28, of Forest Hills, was charged less than three months ago. Because he is being held without bail, he has insisted on a speedy trial, forcing lawyers on both sides to prepare the case more quickly than is typical.
Denying the kidnap-murder plot allegations, Valle contends that he was just fantasizing and role-playing on the Internet.