Cannibalism chat-room talks called ‘real crimes'
by Larry Neumeister and Tom Hays
NEW YORK — A defense attorney for a police officer accused in a cannibalism plot pressed an FBI agent to explain where fantasy ends and reality begins yesterday after the investigator read aloud several-dozen Internet chats in which participants boasted of plans to cook and eat human flesh.
Attorney Robert Baum attacked FBI agent Corey Walsh's statement that 40 of the thousands of Internet communications of Officer Gilberto Valle that he reviewed contained “elements of real crimes.”
Valle is accused in Manhattan federal court of conspiring to kidnap, kill and eat women he knew, including his wife.
In one email exchange, Valle discussed plans to attack a Columbus, Ohio, woman he knew in college.
“I want her to experience being cooked alive,” Valle said. “She'll be trussed up like a turkey. … She'll be terrified, screaming and crying.”
He wrote that her death would “definitely make the news,” and there will be “plenty of suspects” because she is a prosecutor.
The woman, Andria Noble, testified on Monday that she never knew Valle to be violent when they attended the University of Maryland.
Valle, 28, has pleaded not guilty. He could face life in prison if he is convicted of conspiracy and illegal use of a crime database, a crime that prosecutors say stems from his use of a federal database to research potential victims.
For two days, Walsh has testified about chats that Valle participated in last year with a New Jersey co-defendant and two supposed co-conspirators — a man in Great Britain and Aly Khan, both of whom posed on the Internet as veterans of cannibalism who could teach Valle cannibalism skills. The government hasn't explained the status of Khan and the other man.
In several emails read by Walsh, Valle seemed eager to offer to Khan the woman Valle would marry a few months later, although he added: “She is a sweet girl. I like her a lot. But I will move on.”
The jurors — six men and six women — sat mostly stone-faced and silent as they listened to the agent's monotone recitation of remarks by Valle such as “I'm dying to taste some girl meat,” and discussions about using one potential victim's severed head as a centerpiece for a feast of body parts.
Cannibal Cop May Be Saved by His Own Words
by Michael Daly
NYPD officer Gilberto Valle made essentially the same depraved threats in chats dismissed as ‘fantasy' as in others deemed ‘real,' an FBI agent admits—a disclosure that weakens the prosecution's case.
The Cannibal Cop may end up being saved by his own sick and shameful words.
For the first two and a half days of the trial in Manhattan federal court, the prosecution sought to use NYPD Police Officer Gilberto Valle's online chats and emails about kidnapping raping torturing, cooking, and eating actual women to prove that he had ventured from fantasy into a conspiracy to make it a reality.
The prosecution's effort to use the 28-year-old Valle's words against him culminated on Wednesday morning in rookie FBI agent Corey Walsh reading aloud the cop's online descriptions to fellow sickos of the horrors he wanted to inflict upon his wife and another woman, among numerous others.
But then, after the lunch break, defense lawyer Robert Baum began a devastating cross-examination that may well lead to Valle walking free despite the sickness of his thoughts.
Baum began by referring back to the start of Walsh's testimony the previous day, when the agent said that in searching Valle's laptop and desktop computers the FBI had found online dealings with two dozen people who shared his creepy interests. Walsh had testified that the FBI zeroed in on three individuals where Valle was deemed to have actual intent, dismissing the other 21 as mere fantasy.
Under Baum's questioning, Walsh now reported that as many as 10 FBI agents and two federal prosecutors had been involved in making these judgments. Walsh said that the criteria in deciding which were actual threats included the mention of real names and specific times and places. Baum inquired if these criteria also fit some of the chats deemed to be just role-playing.
“You're telling the judge that some chats were fantasy and some—even though they involved some of the same elements—were real,” Baum thundered.
Baum was not asking, he was telling, and he was doing so aggressively. Judge Pasul Gardephe sustained the prosecution's objection. A clearly rattled Walsh showed his inexperience as he began to answer anyway before being hushed from the bench.
Baum asked if any of the women in the case had been actually kidnapped, or tortured or raped or cooked.
“Thankfully no,” Walsh said.
Baum inquired if Valle had ever actually met or even spoken on the phone with any of those he chatted with online.
“To my knowledge, he never met anyone, no,” Walsh said. “I was not aware of any phone contact, no sir.”
Walsh further acknowledged that the FBI had not found any actual chloroform such as Valle had spoken of using. Baum asked about ropes such as Valle said would be used to tie up victims.
“We did not recover any ropes, no,” Walsh acknowledged.
“If you were wondering, it's all fantasy. I just enjoy pushing the envelope a bit.”—Valle's words to a fellow perv.
“Did you find an oven large enough to cook a woman in Mr. Valle's apartment?” Baum then inquired.
“That's debatable,” Walsh said. “Depends on the size of the woman.”
“Did the FBI seize [Valle's] oven as evidence,” Baum asked.
“No,” Walsh said.
Baum further inquired whether the FBI had determined if Valle had a house in upstate New York such as he had described to his purported co-conspirators as an ideal place to cook a woman on an outsized rotisserie.
“We're not aware of any house Mr. Valle had in upstate New York,” Walsh said.
Valle also had spoken of taking pictures of his victims and of hustling them away in a van. Walsh acknowledged that a camera recovered form Valle's apartment had not contained any photos of women involved in the case, and that that Valle did not seem to own a van. Baum asked if the FBI had kept the supposedly dangerous Valle under surveillance during the month between the start of the investigation and the arrest.
“We did not, sir,” Walsh said.
All that was bad enough for the prosecution's case. Baum began the serious damage when he moved on to number of the chats that the FBI had dismissed as fantasy. The words appeared on the various monitors in the courtroom, including the flat screen set before Valle at the defense table, eerily like when they had first appeared before him during the actual chats. The first one involved a screen buddy who asked Valle if he actually sold women into slavery and death.
“No, I'm just talking fantasy,” Valle replied. “No matter what I ask, it's make-believe.”
Valle added, “I just have a need in my mind.”
“Can you imagine branding a slave?” the pal asked.
“Yeah, I can,” Valle said.
“But not for real?”
Baum continued on to a fantasy chat where Valle had spoken of selling actual women for particular prices. Baum asked Walsh if that was very much like one of the supposedly real chats.
“Yes, sir,” Walsh said.
“But this is a fantasy chat, isn't it?” Baum asked.
“Yes sir,” Walsh said.
Baum cited another fantasy chat and another and another where Valle had used much the same words as in the supposedly real ones.
“Similar?” Baum asked.
“Similar, yes,” Walsh admitted.
Baum brought onto the screens a February 27, 2012 fantasy chat where Valle had said, “Some waterboarding will be in order.” Baum asked if Valle had not said much the same thing in a supposedly real chat.
“I don't recall,” Walsh said.
Baum summoned onto the screens something Valle had said in a supposedly real chat on September 8, 2011.
“Might waterboard her, too.”
Talk of waterboarding caused the jury to go visibly more alert after being numbed by the seemingly endless talk of men doing horrible things to women. And the dates of the two chats likely brought a lurch to anyone who was figuring Valle had progressed from fantasy into planning to really do it. The real chat had come five months before, involving the same actual woman.
“And here she is in a fantasy chat in February of 2012; is that correct?” Baum asked.
“It appears so, sir,” Walsh said, surely knowing how unlikely it sounded that reality had led to fantasy.
Baum kept hitting Walsh with other fantasy chats that were remarkably like the ones that had Valle in the defendant's chair.
“Similar, sir,” Walsh kept having to say.
Baum moved on to still another chat, where a cyber-perv asked how many women he had actually victimized.
“None for real,” Valle said. “Never for real.”
Valle added, “”But, it's fun to chat and push the envelope.”
The fellow pervert asked if he would do it if he had the chance.
“I don't think so,” Valle said. “If I were absolutely 100% sure to get away with it, I would think about it.”
Walsh testified that he remained certain that Valle also had made actual plans. An observer had to wonder why the FBI had not used an online undercover agent, as it routinely does in pedophile cases, to lure the suspect into an overt act such as showing up to victimize who he imagines to be a minor.
The prosecution's one hope seems to be convincing a jury that Valle was committing the overt act necessary for a conspiracy charge when he went he went into a police computer looking for information on victims. That, or when he asked for one woman's address to send her a police union card that might come in handy if she got pulled over. The prosecution would have the jury believe Valle's real intent was to find out where she lived in order to abduct her.
As things stood on Wednesday, some of Valle's words to a fellow perv that appeared on the screen as a defense exhibit might as well have been addressed directly to the jury.
“If you were wondering, it's all fantasy. I just enjoy pushing the envelope a bit.”
Even if he is found not have done nothing actually criminal, even if the Cannibal Cop proves to be just the Creep Cop, there is no disputing that he contributed to hatred of women that does result in horrific violence.
If he had not been bent on committing horrors, he was cheering them on.
Paradoxes of Community Policing in Counterterrorism
by Sahar Aziz
Over the past few years, federal officials have expressed concerns about a perceived increase in a "Islamist homegrown terrorist" threat. High-profile cases involving "lone wolves" accused of terrorist plots on U.S. soil coupled with public perceptions of Muslims as prone to terrorism have triggered a flurry of congressional hearings and executive reports recommending more aggressive counterterrorism enforcement focused on Muslim communities. Meanwhile, critics of "hard" counterterrorism tactics propose increasing community outreach to Muslim communities, through community policing in particular, as the solution to homegrown terrorism. As a consequence, community policing has become popular both among policy makers seeking to be more preventive in counterterrorism and Muslim community leaders concerned with protecting the civil liberties of their constituents.
But community policing in counterterrorism as currently envisioned betrays its rhetoric of empowerment and mutual trust, and serves as another tool in the federal government's toolkit that perpetuates the "terrorist other" stereotype. Until this stereotype can be stripped away from "hard on terror" preventive counterterrorism strategies, the benefits gained in the traditional local community policing model of the 1990s are unlikely to be realized. And Muslim communities have the most to lose.
In contrast to traditional community policing where citizens seek the protection of local law enforcement from third-party drug dealers, gangsters, and other criminal elements, Muslim communities engage with federal law enforcement to dissuade them from spying on their mosques and social gatherings, targeting their vulnerable youth in informant-led terrorist plots, prosecuting their charities for giving humanitarian aid to conflict zones, and adopting invidious counterterrorism tactics that destroy community bonds. And as they beseech their government to respect their civil liberties, Muslims must also seek the protection of law enforcement against private acts of violence and discrimination. For many Muslims, the government may come across as more a foe than a friend.
Thus, counterterrorism community policing ("CCP") is not, nor is it intended to be, the same as community policing in the traditional criminal context. Rather than fundamentally change relations between law enforcement and communities into a partnership, CCP perpetuates preventive counterterrorism strategies that prioritize surveillance, investigation, prosecution, and conviction of Muslims.
Put simply, community policing co-opts Muslim community leaders into gathering and sharing intelligence on Muslims' political beliefs, religious practices, and other information otherwise unavailable to law enforcement due to constitutional constraints. Believing they are serving the best interests of Muslim communities, many unwitting participants disclose the on-goings of the community and provide information about the politics of community leaders and mosques. This enables law enforcement's investigative arm to reach deeper into Muslim communities' affairs than they could otherwise, resulting in a de facto deputization process. All the while, aggressive counterterrorism enforcement practices and policies focused exclusively on Muslims remain unchanged.
Herein lies the paradox -- Muslims have little choice but to engage with the same entities that both violate their civil liberties and legitimize civil rights violations by private actors. Indeed, for many Muslim proponents of community policing, it offers a formal mechanism to reform counterterrorism practices that adversely impact Muslim communities' civil liberties. Accordingly, community policing is likely to exacerbate, rather than resolve, the underlying subordination of Muslims post-9/11 manifested in racialized counterterrorism policies notwithstanding the increase of homegrown terrorism threats from white supremacists groups, far right militia groups, and anti-immigrant extremists.
Proponents of community policing between law enforcement and Muslim communities erroneously presume a convergence of interest between the two. Moreover, they shortsightedly focus on local policing when in practice federal law enforcement agencies drive counterterrorism enforcement. In the end, community policing is merely an extension of the federal government's prosecutorial approach that prioritizes law enforcement's interests in expanding the number of anti-terrorism investigations and prosecutions at the expense of key collective rights of American Muslim communities' and the kinds of community alliances essential to defeat genuine terrorism threats. These include the rights to be free from surveillance, practice their religion without undue scrutiny by the state, travel to their countries of origin without fear of being watch listed or exiled on No Fly Lists, and politically mobilize their communities without inviting further government scrutiny.
Rather than meaningfully address these problems, community policing bolsters the broader strategy of integrating local police as the eyes and ears on the ground in the federal counterterrorism regime. As a result, federal funding will seduce some local law enforcement into the process through attractive federal funds while others eventually will abandon the project to preserve the credibility necessary for decreasing non-terrorism crimes with the assistance of the communities they serve. In the end, for community policing to work federal law enforcement culture and practices must abandon the adversarial model. In light of the post-9/11 politics built on the assumption that Muslims are inherently prone to terrorism; such changes are unlikely in the near future.
So long as countering terrorism is driven more by the identity of the suspect rather than the nature of the crime, communities and local law enforcement alike should reject community policing in counterterrorism.
This article is based on a more in-depth analysis of community policing, Policing Terrorists in the Community
East Haven to put police officers in schools
by Jennifer Swift
EAST HAVEN — As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and with the implementation of a new program, the Police Department is ensuring it's part of that process.
Mayor Joseph Maturo's office Wednesday announced a “School Liaison Officer Program,” in which an officer will be assigned to a local school and the surrounding neighborhood, similar to a traditional community policing program.
Maturo said that although the town has its own defined neighborhoods, Chief Brent Larrabee says they don't lend themselves to what would constitute traditional neighborhood and community policing. Because the schools are neighborhood schools and embedded in their own parts of town, the schools will act as the focal points for individual communities.
“This new program serves several important goals,” Maturo said. “First, it enhances school security by making our schools regular patrol points for officers. Second, it will help open up a dialogue among officers, school administrators, teachers and students about general town education issues. Third, and most importantly, it will provide students with another trustworthy resource from which they can regularly seek guidance.”
Larrabee explained that officers already are assigned to patrol certain areas of town, so there are no additional costs associated with the program. The officers will make regular appearances at the assigned school during normal patrols. They will handle incidents that occur at that school while on duty. If an incident happens in that officer's area while he or she is off-duty, other officers will let them know. Larrabee said it's a way for the officer to communicate his or her knowledge of what goes on in the neighborhood regarding students with the administrators.
“So many times, problems at home manifest themselves in school. These kids, if they're in an environment where it's not a healthy environment, or something happens, it can be reported to the neighborhood officer who can let the school officials know,” Larrabee said.
The goal is to keep open the communication between agencies in town to benefit the neighborhoods and students, Larrabee said.
The officers will become familiar faces because they routinely drop by the schools and have conversations with students, he said.
“So often, students don't know where to turn for help. As students develop relationships with their school officers, we expect officers will become aware of out-of-school issues as well,” Larrabee said. “School liaison officers will also be responsible for appropriately addressing and reporting these issues.”
Larrabee said that “for whatever reason” this type of policing wasn't done in the past, but when the idea was broached, both the town and superintendent were enthusiastic about implementing it.
The Police Department is involved in implementing a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, mandating it develop a robust community policing program.
The Pathways school will be visited by Officer Dave Olson; Deer Run and Ferrara Schools will be visited by Officer Justin Brochu; East Haven High School will be visited by Officer Shawn Hatchel; Joseph Melillo Middle School will be visited by Officer Shirley Conyers; Tuttle School will be visited by Officer Joseph Finoia; and Momauguin School will be visited by Officer Dave Torello.
Torell also is the DARE officer for the fifth grade throughout the town's schools.
After a three-year hiatus of the program, Maturo arranged to bring back a DARE officer in schools this year. School Superintendent Anthony Serio said students were extremely receptive to it — and the success of the program lent itself to the creation of this new program.
“We didn't want to have a complete police presence in schools, but we did want to have more than what we have now, and just try to have a balance,” Serio said. “All of the town's resources are working together to let kids and the teachers and the administrators know that we're all in this together, and we're all concerned about school safety. We want to let them know that if there's a problem, that there's someone they can talk to.”
Board of Education Chairman Tom Hennessey lauded the new program, and said he was looking forward to learning more and seeing it implemented.
Board of Education Vice Chairman Ron DeNuzzo, who is also an investigator for the Litchfield state attorney's office and serves as the chair of the policy and bylaws committee, said the district began reviewing security policies in the wake of the Newtown shootings by meeting with administrators to get feedback. DeNuzzo has asked legislators if any security measures they enforce may be reimbursable, or if there are federal funds available for some initiatives.
DeNuzzo said upgrades have been made to add extra security personnel, buzzers and intercom systems. Some schools altered policies only allowing egress from one entrance. Photo IDs are also needed to enter some schools.
Serio said the district is reviewing its crisis intervention plans, as well, but stressed that prior to the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, East Haven already had robust security measures.
“Our schools are really in a modified lockdown every day — all our doors are secured, there's no way of getting in the building without camera surveillance and a buzzer system to get in the front door,” he said. “We just want to improve on what we have and we're in pretty good shape as far as what we have done already.”
Maryland Legislative Black Caucus Holds First Law and Justice Day
by Massimo A. Delogu Jr.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland convened on Feb. 25 in Annapolis to discuss various citizen concerns about law enforcement, including community policing, police use of force and prison and reentry at their first Law and Justice Day event.
The open discussion was comprised of two panels—Policing in Maryland and Prison and Reentry. The event was headed by Del. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Prince George's), chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and Del. Jill P. Carter, chair, LBCM Law & Justice Committee.
As the hearing commenced on the topic of “Policing in Maryland,” panelists discussed issues such as police use of force and community policing. Members of the panel included Baltimore City Police Lt. Col. Melvin Russell, who told the audience that he grew up in East Baltimore; Maryland State Police Col. Marcus Brown; and Ricardo Flores, government relations director for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.
Russell told the audience that he makes himself “accessible” to the community he serves in an effort to be more proactive in reaching out to the people his officers work with. He said the philosophy that has police working more closely with citizens is paying off in reduced crime.
“It's because of what we were doing differently,” he said. “We were talking to the community. We were building bridges. We gave the community a voice because the community is the voice.”
The three-hour event drew few citizens. However, the legislators and law enforcement personnel interacted extensively, discussing during the first panel ways to improve communications between officers and in the second panel, an effort to “Ban the Box,” to remove from job applications the box that requires men and women convicted of crimes to tell employers that before they are interviewed.
But the discussion was not always positive. Dominique Stevenson, director of the “Friend of a Friend” program, which helps men and women who are returning offenders to find jobs, said she has witnessed police misconduct and questions whether an element of trust can be established between police and the community.
“Riding through Baltimore, I don't see community-based police. I see young men walking down their steps and the police in an unmarked car and they pause,” she said. “He's immediately a suspect coming out of the house.”
Dr. Marvin L. “Doc” Cheatham, Sr., the political action chair for the Maryland State Conference of NAACP branches, said community leaders need to find more ways “to connect with the police.”
He added, “Then, we have to use our organizations to hold them accountable.”
The focus of the second panel was providing access to job opportunities for ex-offenders and providing them the resources to sustain themselves once they leave prison.
Walter M. Lomax, founder and executive director of Mandala Enterprise, which advocates for offenders and ex-offenders, told those gathered that there is little assistance available for men and women leaving prison.
“The reality is your son or your daughter can be arrested at anytime and find themselves in the criminal justice system and they will find themselves locked out economically, politically, and socially,” he said.
Mark P. Matthews Sr., founder of Clean Slate America, which specializes in criminal record expongement and policy, advocacy and changing laws regarding ex-offenders, said he regularly interacts with men and women who have returned home with good intentions only to lose hope when they are shut out because of their criminal history.
“No matter how much experience one has, no matter how much training, no matter how much education, a criminal record is a detriment,” he said. “When is enough, enough? When do you get that promise to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”
Panelists said ex-offenders going through the reentry process are at risk of being homeless. They struggle with re-assimilation. The inability to find jobs can lead them to reoffend, Stevens said.
Members of the Maryland Black Legislative Caucus discussed creating initiatives to urge major corporations such as Johns Hopkins to employ ex-offenders. Russell said companies should consider bringing in workers who have served their time, instead of outsiders because they would be more vested in the community.
The “Ban the Box” bill, which would restrict access and inquiries into the criminal history of an applicant for employment until the applicant has been provided an opportunity for an interview, has been approved by the Senate, but has stalled in a House of Delegates Appropriations Committee. House Bill 1006, which is Bill 70 in the Senate, sponsored by Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore) and Sen. Verna Jones Rodwell (D-Baltimore), would allow individuals to petition the courts to shield certain non-violent misdemeanor convictions. The measure is scheduled to be discussed in the House Judiciary Committee on March 7.