Former NYPD detective accused of lying to build drug cases stands trial for perjury

Former NYPD detective accused of lying to build drug cases stands trial for perjury

A former NYPD detective whose questionable statements led prosecutors in three totally different boroughs to drop a whole lot of felony convictions in cases he labored stands trial for perjury at this time.

Prosecutors say Joseph Franco, 50, repeatedly stated he had witnessed drug offers that they declare didn’t occur — or at the very least not inside his sight.

The Manhattan district legal professional’s workplace charged Franco with a number of counts of perjury, official misconduct and different fees in 2019 after prosecutors uncovered video proof they are saying contradicts statements he made on police paperwork and in courtroom. A number of folks have been arrested for drug gross sales that Franco stated he watched, and a few hung out behind bars. However prosecutors allege that he couldn’t have seen the offers that laid the groundwork for these felony cases.

The previous detective’s alleged misconduct price the town almost $1.3 million in lawsuit settlements through the first half of final yr. His perjury fees have led prosecutors in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx to assessment a whole lot of cases that he investigated, they usually have requested the courts to dismiss greater than 450 convictions primarily based on his police work. Information present that the police division has additionally disciplined him for two civilian complaints lately.

If convicted by a jury, Franco might spend up to seven years in jail. He has pleaded not responsible.

“His lies were a poison that tainted any fair or legitimate case,” Assistant District Lawyer Samantha Dworken stated throughout opening statements in Manhattan Supreme Courtroom Thursday.

Dworken described Franco as a “very experienced narcotics detective” whose means to “disappear in plain sight” whereas working undercover to collect intel for drug investigations earned him the belief of his fellow detectives, supervisors and prosecutors. However ultimately, she stated, a Manhattan prosecutor working one of the detective’s cases “caught Franco in a lie.”

“When an officer in Franco’s position fills in gaps,” she stated, “that is not truth telling. It is lying. And the foundation of our system is irreparably damaged.”

Howard Evan Tanner, Franco’s protection legal professional, stated the drug gross sales did occur — that Franco “saw every last one of them” and that the footage isn’t proof that he didn’t .

“This video is not complete,” Tanner stated. “Not every angle is covered. Not every entrance is covered.”

Tanner sought to discredit the folks his shopper claimed had bought medication, noting that a number of had pleaded responsible in these cases or had different fees on their information. One of them, he famous, was just lately arrested for possessing a loaded firearm.

Tanner stated that Franco may need gotten some particulars incorrect and that others may need been “lost in translation,” however he disputed that the previous detective deliberately lied and urged jurors to give him “the benefit of the doubt.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, Joe’s on trial for doing his job,” Tanner stated, calling the Manhattan DA “overzealous.”

“It’s not right,” Tanner stated.

4 drug offers in query

In Decide Robert Mandelbaum’s wood-paneled fifteenth flooring courtroom, Franco sat beside his protection legal professional. His head was shaven, a bushy beard coated his chin and he was wearing a mauve button-down shirt. His eyes tracked every speaker as the 2 sides made opening statements and the prosecution then started questioning witnesses.

The trial facilities on 4 cases that Franco investigated between 2017 and 2018 whereas working as a detective in Narcotics Borough Manhattan South.

In a single incident, for instance, Franco stated that he noticed a person give cocaine to a lady who then bought the medication to an undercover cop. The person who Franco stated gave the lady the cocaine was arrested. However prosecutors say footage of the encounter solely reveals the lady holding the door open for the person as he walked out of a constructing — not getting medication from him.

Franco joined the NYPD in 2000 and spent almost 20 years with the division, together with about 15 in narcotics. Prosecutors stated he made greater than 100 arrests over the course of his profession and helped with hundreds extra. His protection legal professional stated he participated in additional than 4,000 undercover operations.

When the police division performed an inner investigation into Franco’s alleged lies, a number of colleagues praised his dedication to his work and his means to collect data by mixing in, in accordance to NYPD information. Lt. Washington Zurita, who supervised Franco for a yr, known as him “one of the best detectives” and stated he had a “sixth sense” for recognizing drug offers. Detective Jawuan Hubbard known as him “the best cop” he had ever labored with.

However an administrative decide who reviewed the police disciplinary case towards Franco discovered that he had “egregiously and irrevocably violated the oath he swore to uphold.” The division discovered Franco responsible of making false statements and dismissed him within the spring of 2020.

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