Attorney for accused 'cannibal cop' tries to establish fantasy talk
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Accused "cannibal cop" Gilberto Valle scheduled as many as three different kidnappings for the same week last February in Internet chats that the government contends were all part of real plots and not merely fantasy role-playing, an FBI agent said on cross examination Thursday.
The questioning about the purported plots near Feb. 20 -- none of which actually happened -- marked the latest effort by defense lawyers to demonstrate that Valle was just fantasizing. Robert Baum, Valle's attorney, asked the agent in mock astonishment whether simultaneous abductions sounded like "realistic statements."
"Yes, sir," answered the FBI investigator, Corey Walsh, on the stand for the second day in Manhattan federal court.
Valle, 28, an NYPD officer, is charged with conspiring in chats with three men to kidnap, sexually abuse and eat women, and with misusing a police database. He was turned in when his wife saw the chats, but U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe said Thursday there was "almost no evidence of actions beyond computer-based activities."
The alleged targets included Valle's wife, two college classmates and a woman he knew in high school, but Walsh disclosed Thursday under prosecution questioning that Valle had also compiled a file on his NYPD supervisor -- a 33-year-old named "Evelyn" -- and discussed her as a possible victim.
The agent said Valle had a file on his computer with more than a dozen pictures of "Evelyn," but when he brought her up in a chat about a purported kidnap plan with an alleged co-conspirator, the partner rejected the idea of a cop. "No I want a reg girl," the other man responded.
Valle's computer had records of thousands of chats and emails with 24 men. Walsh testified on Wednesday that the FBI found about 80 percent were "fantasy role-playing," but that discussions with three -- a Pakistani known as "Ali Khan," a Brit screen-named "Moody Blues" and Michael Van Hise of New Jersey -- involved "real" plots.
The defense contends that the "fantasy" chats are indistinguishable from the "real" ones, and the "real" ones are riddled with inconsistencies, like Valle's multiple Feb. 20 plans -- a plot with "Ali Khan" to both cannibalize his wife in Pakistan and possibly also abduct a local prosecutor in Ohio during the same week he promised to grab a third woman in New York for Van Hise.
To counter the defense arguments, however, Walsh told prosecutors that while "fantasy" chats and "real" chats had common elements, many of the "fantasy" chats involved participants explicitly acknowledging they were creating a story -- an element missing from "real" chats.
He also said the lines between the two categories were blurred -- that the FBI believed some statements in the "fantasy" chats were real, and some statements in the "real" chats were phony disinformation even though the plotting was real. Prosecutor Hadassah Waxman asked him if criminals lying to other criminals means they aren't engaged in crimes.
"No, ma'am," Walsh said.