Bronx DA dismissing 133 convictions after former NYPD detective charged with perjury

Friday, January 21, 2022
BRONX (WABC) -- More than 130 convictions relying on the testimony of a former undercover NYPD detective accused of lying and framing innocent people have been thrown out.

The Bronx district attorney says there will be a total of more than 500 cases dismissed because they rely on testimony from former Detective Joseph Franco.

He worked as an undercover narcotics detective in the Bronx from 2011 to 2015.

In April 2019, a New York County grand jury indicted Franco on 16 counts of first-degree perjury and related charges. In July 2019, a grand jury indicted him on 10 additional counts of first-degree perjury and related charges.

He is awaiting trial on both indictments and was fired from the NYPD in May 2020.

Last year, The Legal Aid Society, which represented many of the suspects, said we may never know the full extent of the damage Franco caused and lives he upended.

"It shows you the unbelievable ripple effect that one individual who wears a shield can have on lives of hundreds, if not thousands," said Aida Leisenring, a criminal defense attorney with Barket Epstein. "Overturning a wrongful conviction is not a substitute for justice, because the damage has already been done. Filing a lawsuit against the NYPD and receiving financial reparations for that, that's a step towards justice."

Franco's attorney, however, called the move reckless when the Brooklyn DA dismissed 90 cases in April 2021.

"Brooklyn DA Eric 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," Howard Tanner 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. My client, a 20-year decorated former Detective with the NYPD, maintains his innocence and will mount an aggressive defense."

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