New York – The New York City prosecutor’s office asked a court to overturn 90 drug convictions after reviewing the arrest history involving a drug detective who is suspected of lying under oath and falsely accusing innocent people.
The cases, mostly for minor infractions, were investigated by Detective Joseph Franco, who served in the New York Police Department in Brooklyn from 2004 to 2011.
The court should throw out the convictions because Franco is being criminally prosecuted in Manhattan, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said Wednesday.
The examination of the Brooklyn cases from more than a decade ago does not demonstrate Franco’s misconduct or determine the innocence of the defendants, but due to the case against him in Manhattan “I have lost confidence in his work,” Gonzalez said in a statement. .
“I cannot in good conscience defend these convictions that depended substantially on his testimony,” he added.
Tina Luongo, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, a US group that legally defends vulnerable people, praised Gonzalez’s decision and called on authorities in other constituencies to conduct similar reviews.
Franco “affected thousands of cases throughout New York City and we will probably never know the magnitude of the year it caused and the number of lives it disrupted,” Luongo said in a statement.
The decision was quickly condemned by Franco’s attorney, Howard Tanner, who called it “unfounded and irresponsible,” tending to create “a toxic environment” that could harm his client at trial.
At the hearing on Wednesday morning, held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, the judge began to dismiss the cases at the request of defense attorneys. Under consideration were 27 felonies and 63 misdemeanors, for which the defendants pleaded guilty.
Franco was fired from the NYPD in April 2020, about a year after being indicted on charges of perjury.