By Chris Francescani
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City police officer was convicted of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women following a trial that shed light on an underworld of people who derive pleasure from fantasizing about cannibalism online.
A federal court jury on Tuesday also found Gilberto Valle, 28, guilty on a lesser charge of improperly accessing a law enforcement database to gather personal information about potential targets.
Prosecutors said Valle - dubbed the "cannibal cop" by the tabloid media - crossed the line from fantasy to reality in taking specific action conspiring to kidnap women. His defense attorney, Julia Gatto, countered that her client was merely engaged in fantasy role-play online.
Valle faces up to life in prison on the charge of conspiracy to kidnap and up to five years in prison for the database breach.
The jury of six women and six men had deliberated since Thursday, when federal prosecutor Hadassa Waxman said in her closing argument that Valle was at one point engaged in fantasy, but that his intentions had grown more sinister.
Pointing to his extensive online research on kidnapping, making chloroform and cooking women, she said, "These are real searches conducted to carry out real research to kidnap real women."
Gatto, the defense lawyer, told jurors that after nearly a year of fantasizing about roughly two dozen women - in many cases, discussing kidnapping with other fetishists - none of the plotters had ever met, exchanged money or committed any crimes.
Valle did not testify.
(Editing by Daniel Trotta and John Wallace)
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