April 25, 2019
The Legal Aid Society on Thursday called on Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark to review every case her office has prosecuted involving NYPD Detective Joseph Franco, who is accused of framing at least three defendants on drug charges.
Franco, a 19-year department veteran, worked in the Bronx from 2001 to 2003, and was listed as an arresting officer in dozens of cases in the borough, Legal Aid attorneys said.
Franco’s most recent assignment was with the Manhattan South Narcotics Division.
“It should not be lost on us that the disgraced detective has framed at least three individuals that we know of, and more significantly, that those individuals pleaded guilty to crimes that they absolutely did not commit,” Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of Legal Aid’s Criminal Defense Practice, said in a statement. “As such, we demand that the Manhattan and Bronx District Attorney’s conduct an immediate and thorough investigation of every case involving Detective Franco for misconduct. This behavior must not be tolerated.”
Franco was charged Wednesday following his indictment on 16 criminal counts of official misconduct, perjury, and offering a false instrument for filing. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Manhattan, and was released without bail.
Franco, 46, is currently suspended from the police department without pay, authorities said.
“Our N.Y.P.D. officers swear an oath to uphold the law, and meet the highest ethical standards,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said in a statement. “Should an officer fail to meet those critical expectations, they must be held accountable.”
The crimes with which Franco is currently charged stem from three investigations in which he allegedly made up details about seeing people sell drugs—only to have his lies exposed by video evidence and witness statements, Manhattan prosecutors said.
The three people Franco allegedly framed for selling drugs were convicted, and two of them served prison time. All three of their convictions have been vacated as a result of the false testimony given against them, authorities said.
Neither Franco nor his attorney could immediately be reached for comment Thursday.