DAs tossing more drug cases tied to indicted NYPD detective
NEW YORK: New York City prosecutors will seek to overturn scores of additional drug convictions that relied on the work of an indicted former NYPD detective who has been accused of framing innocent people in some cases.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office said Thursday that, in the coming weeks, it will move to vacate and dismiss about 100 cases in which ex-Detective Joseph Franco served as an key witness.
Vance’s office previously dismissed about 40 open cases involving Franco, Vance spokesperson Danny Frost said. Brooklyn prosecutors l ast week tossed out 90 convictions because of concerns about Franco’s integrity.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark’s office is reviewing about 150 drug cases involving Franco and will seek dismissal of all in which Franco played an essential role. Most of the charges resulted in a guilty plea, the office said.
A Clark spokesperson said that the office found Franco to be key to most of the 116 cases it has scrutinized thus far. In the vast majority of those cases, the spokesperson said, Franco acted as an undercover buyer who provided information leading to an arrest.
Gothamist was first to report on new round of dismissals.
Manhattan prosecutors indicted Franco on perjury charges in 2019, accusing him of lying in testimony and paperwork about witnessing drug transactions that security camera footage showed never took place. The police department fired him in April 2020.
A coalition of advocacy groups, including The Exoneration Project and the Legal Aid Society, send letters to Vance and Clark this week encouraging them to vacate cases that hinged on Franco’s work.
In a statement Thursday, the organizations praised the prosecutors for “taking this necessary step to right many of the injustices created by Det. Franco’s documented misdeeds.”
A message seeking comment was left with Franco’s lawyer, Howard Tanner. Tanner said last week that the move by prosecutors to dismiss cases involving Franco was “baseless and irresponsible” and could harm the former detective’s right to a fair trial.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, in securing the dismissal of mostly low-level drug convictions that relied on Franco’s testimony, said last week that he had “lost confidence” in the former detective’s work. Gonzalez’s office, however, said it had found no evidence of the kind of misconduct alleged in the indictment.