NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In a historic move, dozens of drug cases dating back more than a decade are being dismissed in Brooklyn.
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said Wednesday he can no longer stand by the testimony of a former NYPD officer that potentially put innocent people behind bars, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.
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Joseph Franco, who was fired by the department, is awaiting trial, accused of misconduct and framing multiple people while working as an undercover narcotics detective.
Now, the Brooklyn DA is beginning the process of dismissing charges for 90 cases Franco’s testimony was central in prosecuting.
“Knowing what we do know now, whether he’s convicted or he’s not convicted, and that will be up to a jury in Manhattan, I could no longer stand by those convictions,” Gonzalez said.
From Brooklyn Criminal Court to the State Supreme Court, each case involves drug convictions dating back as early as 2004.
But for many of Maryanne Kaishian’s clients with the Brooklyn Defender Services, the damage, including jail time, has already been done.
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“We have been in touch with a person who had to miss the birth of a child because they were in prison as direct result of Det. Franco’s harassment. We know people have spent time in solitary confinement in ways that are now recognized by New York state to be torturous,” Kaishian said.
According to DA Gonzalez, in many of the cases the accused maintained their innocence, but plead guilty for a variety of reasons because it was their word against Det. Franco’s.
And for some, this was the only conviction they’ve had.
“Certainly, these abuses didn’t begin with Det. Franco and they won’t end with him, so we all need to be conscious and not say, ‘Oh, we’ve addressed these harms and we’re done now,’” Kaishian said.
Franco plead not guilty to all of the charges.
Meanwhile, the work continues to examine his role in prosecutions for nearly two decades.
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In the Bronx, 150 cases are under review that Det. Franco was involved in. District Attorney Darcel Clark’s office said each one is being examined to see if “the convictions are reliable.”