By Amy Berberyan and Mathew Seibert
BRONX, NY – After former undercover NYPD detective Joseph Franco was accused of framing innocent people, a New York judge dismissed an additional 133 felony convictions involving Franco with the possibility of that number reaching 500.
Franco, who worked undercover in the Bronx from 2011 to 2015, was indicted in April 2019 by a New York County Grand Jury. He was charged with 16 accounts of first-degree perjury and related changes. Ten additional counts were added by a grand jury in July 2019.
Franco was fired from the NYPD in May 2020, and he is currently awaiting trial for both indictments.
So far, 257 total cases have been dismissed due to their reliance on Franco’s testimony.
District Attorney Darcel Clark, whose office’s Conviction Integrity Bureau plans to dismiss an additional 250 cases, remarked that “we did not want to dismiss or vacate out of hand all cases he was involved in; we investigated those that hinged on his testimony and sworn statements.
“His compromised credibility suggests a lack of due process in the prosecution of these defendants,” she said in a statement, “and we cannot stand behind these convictions.”
Last year, the Legal Aid Society remarked on the damage Franco had done and the lives he had upended.
Aida Leisenring, a criminal defense attorney with Barket Epstein, said, “It shows you the unbelievable ripple effect that one individual who wears a shield can have on lives of hundreds, if not thousands.
“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,” Leisenring said.
Franco’s attorney, Howard Tanner, called the Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez’s decision a reckless move in which his office did not uncover anything.
“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,” said Tanner. He maintained his client’s innocence and said he would “mount an aggressive defense.”