Summary List Placement
Brooklyn’s district attorney is asking judges to vacate 90 convictions — including 27 felonies and 63 misdemeanors — because they relied on testimony from a former police officer who has since been charged with multiple accounts of perjury.
The former undercover New York Police Department detective, Joseph Franco, faces 26 criminal charges, most of them for perjury or official misconduct, according to New York court records. The NYPD fired him in May 2020.
Franco was charged in 2019, and the incidents all date back to arrests Franco was involved with between 2004 and 2011, according to a statement from Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said he’s seeking to toss the 90 convictions because they were all cases in which Franco was an essential witness, and which couldn’t have been prosecuted without Franco.
“I have lost confidence in his work,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “Knowingly and repeatedly framing innocent people obliterates the credibility of any police officer and proving perjury in such circumstances is rare.”
Franco has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. His lawyer, Howard Tanner, told Insider in a statement that Gonzalez’s announcement could prejudice a jury against his client, who has maintained his innocence.
“Gonzalez’s premature decision to dismiss 90 cases in summary fashion despite an investigation by his office which failed to uncover anything improper, is baseless and irresponsible,” he said. “This shocking and highly publicized decision has created a toxic atmosphere that is prejudicial to Mr. Franco’s constitutional right to the presumption of innocence and a fair trial by an impartial jury.”
Gonzalez said all but one of the defendants in the 90 convictions pleaded guilty to the charges. Most of the 27 felony convictions received six-month to one-year sentences, and the longest sentence was for three years. Most of the misdemeanor convictions resulted in 90-day jail terms or less.
One man who was arrested three times by Franco on low-level drug crime charges told The New York Times he did not commit any of the crimes, but pleaded guilty because he felt he couldn’t win in court against the testimony of a police officer. Each of his three convictions will now be dismissed, The Times reported.