Bronx DA drops final 67 cases connected to ex-NYPD narcotics detective accused of lying in testimonies

The Bronx District Attorney's Office is seen on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023.
The Bronx District Attorney’s Office is seen on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023.
Photo Camille Botello

The Bronx District Attorney’s office announced on Sept. 6 that the final 67 drug cases connected to former NYPD officer Joseph Franco have been dismissed, culminating in a total of 324 Bronx convictions that have been cleared in connection to the former officer since 2021. 

The dismissals come after a review by the Bronx District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Bureau, following similar action taken by the Manhattan and Brooklyn district attorneys where Franco’s testimonies led to compromised convictions in those boroughs. 

“This is Justice with Integrity,” District Attorney Darcel Clark said in a released statement. “After the detective was fired by the NYPD in April 2020, my Conviction Integrity Bureau did an exhaustive review of Bronx cases hinging on the former detective’s testimony and sworn statements. Prosecutors had relied on evidence from someone with compromised credibility, and the District Attorney cannot stand behind these convictions.” 

Franco began his career with the NYPD in March of 2000, and served as an undercover narcotics detective in the Bronx from 2011 to 2015. In 2019, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Franco, 50, with official misconduct, perjury and other charges related to numerous drug arrests.

While the trial in Manhattan did not begin until 2023, Franco was dismissed from the NYPD in 2020 following an internal affairs investigation found him guilty of making false statements claiming he witnessed drug transactions. Franco’s testimonies had led to hundreds of convictions.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s case was ultimately dismissed in 2023, however, after prosecutors violated discovery laws three times by failing to disclose records to Franco’s defense attorneys. As a result, the case against Franco in Manhattan was sealed and cannot be reopened.

Franco also cannot be prosecuted in the Bronx due to a five-year statute of limitations for felony charges. However, hundreds of cases that hinged on his testimony have been cleared across New York City.

Outside of the 324 cases in the Bronx, the Brooklyn District Attorney has dropped 90 cases since 2021 while the Manhattan District Attorney dismissed more than 100 cases. 

According to the Bronx District Attorney’s office, the latest cases to be dismissed in the Bronx include convictions for fourth-degree criminal facilitation and criminal possession of a controlled substance, among other crimes. Nine cases were related to marijuana offenses that would no longer be considered crimes today — New York state legalized marijuana for recreational consumption in 2021. 

Franco was named in 16 lawsuits that were brought against the NYPD and involved more than $1.7 million in settlement payouts. The lawsuits against Franco were from plaintiffs who were unfairly prosecuted based on Franco’s testimony, and include cases in the Bronx.

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