The former NYPD officer whose conviction for plotting to kidnap and eat women was overturned in July said at his sentencing on a lesser offense Wednesday that he was never a threat to carry out his fantasies, and now hungers to some day become a defense lawyer.
"You made the right decision," the so-called "cannibal cop" Gilberto Valle told U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe, who reversed the jury verdict. "I am incapable of violence. I would never do the things I talked about on the Internet. . . . What I needed was help, not prosecution."
"My legacy," he told reporters afterward, "will not be the story of the cannibal cop."
Valle, 30, was found guilty in Manhattan federal court in 2013 of conspiring online to abduct, torture and eat his wife and other women. Gardephe ruled there was no evidence that Valle was serious. Prosecutors have asked an appeals court to reinstate the verdict.
The ex-cop, who spent 21 months in jail and has been living under house arrest at his mother's home in Queens since Gardephe's ruling, was also convicted of misusing a police database to research women, a misdemeanor with a maximum 1-year sentence.
The judge sentenced him to time served on that charge and freed him from house arrest, but ordered a year of supervised release with continued mental health counseling, no contact with the women he fantasized about and no visits to sexual fetish websites.
Valle consented to those conditions. Prosecutors wanted him kept on house arrest until the appeal is resolved, and also sought a complete ban on Internet use and required sex-offender treatment because of Valle's "deeply disturbing, misogynistic" behavior.
"We do respectfully believe the activity went far beyond imagining," prosecutor Randall Jackson told Gardephe. "It went to actual planning and conspiracy."
In his remarks to Gardephe, Valle assured the women he fantasized about that they were never in danger, and apologized to them, his daughter, his ex-wife, the NYPD, his family and friends, his college and his high school for getting dragged into the case.
"I clearly have some issues that I need to address and I am addressing them, but at no time did anything extend beyond cyberspace," he told the judge.
"People can talk about dark fetish net and unusual sexual fetishes, but my single biggest mistake was taking my family, the people and the possessions in my life for granted," he added.
Divorced last year, Valle said after the sentencing that he planned to seek visitation rights with his 3-year-old daughter, would use his new freedom to begin doing volunteer work for his Catholic church, and was already prepping for law school entrance exams.
He insisted the experience had made him a "better person," and said he wanted to become a criminal defense lawyer to help others.
"I truly feel that a career as a criminal defense attorney is my new passion in life, and that stems from watching . . . my defense team vigorously defend my innocence," he said.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to hear the government's bid to reinstate Valle's conspiracy conviction next year.