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New Jersey man in "cannibal cop" case denied bail

By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge denied bail on Monday to a New Jersey man arrested last week on suspicion of conspiring with the so-called "cannibal cop" to kidnap and rape a woman.

The prosecutor and defense attorney clashed repeatedly in a one-hour hearing over their sharply different interpretations of the intent of the suspect, New Jersey mechanic Michael Van Hise, 22.

Prosecutors contend Van Hise discussed a kidnap-for-rape scheme with New York City police officer Gilberto Valle III, who was charged in October with plotting to kidnap, torture, and eat women. Defense attorneys for both men say their clients were merely engaged in fantasy role play.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman conceded the case "is not entirely black and white" but denied bail for Van Hise on Monday because the evidence suggested "this was going beyond the realm of fantasy."

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson, insisted Van Hise was "serious" about an email exchange with Valle discussing the kidnap and rape of the woman, in which he haggled over the price of the kidnapping.

Defense attorney Alice Fontier said Van Hise never intended to act on his words, adding that he had cooperated with investigators since he was first approached by the FBI in October.

Valle has been dubbed the "cannibal cop" by New York media in reference to emails in which, prosecutors say, he discussed eating his victims.

Valle was charged with conspiracy to kidnap and accessing a government computer without authorization. He pleaded not guilty and insisted he, too, was engaged in role play only.

Fontier said she would appeal Pitman's ruling, asserting federal prosecutors arrested her client to prevent him from testifying on Valle's behalf at his federal trial later this month.

(Reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Andrew Hay)

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