The Legal Aid Society called on New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clarke to review each and every case involving New York City Police Department (NYPD) Detective Joseph E. Franco, who was recently indicted in New York State Supreme Court on 16 counts, including Perjury in the First Degree, Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, and Official Misconduct, all of which led to false arrests and to the wrongful incarceration of innocent New Yorkers.
According to Legal Aid case records, Franco worked in the Bronx most likely out of the 46th Precinct from 2001 to 2003. He was most recently stationed with the Manhattan South Narcotics Division.
Legal Aid conducted a preliminary review of cases and determined that Franco was a named arresting officer in dozens of cases but most likely involved in hundreds of Legal Aid client arrests. Over Franco’s nineteen years with the Department, he had a role in thousands of arrests, as detailed by his attorney and reported in the New York Daily News.
“We are shocked but not surprised that a 19-year veteran of the NYPD has been indicted for framing innocent New Yorkers. Our hearts go out to Julio Irizarry, Tameeka Baker, Turrell Irving, and their families and communities for the losses that they have endured. 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 pled guilty to crimes that they absolutely did not commit. As such, we demand that the Manhattan and Bronx District Attorneys conduct an immediate and thorough investigation of every case involving Detective Franco for misconduct. This behavior must not be tolerated,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society.
“The Court’s bail decision in this case coupled with the fact that the Detective’s victims served upstate prison for his lies is further proof of the criminal legal systems over handedness when dealing with Black and Brown New Yorkers as alleged perpetrators of crimes. Detective Franco will have an opportunity to defend himself from the outside, while our clients sit incarcerated at Rikers Island accused of much less, simply on account of their economic status and the color of their skin. We welcome the new bail legislation which would grant many of our clients the opportunity just afforded Detective Franco – the ability to fight their cases from the outside. It’s also horrifying to imagine how many lives Detective Franco has ruined in 19 years, before the prevalence of surveillance cameras and cell phone videos. These atrocities could only happen in a system where the balance of power is so heavily weighted in favor of prosecutors that these individuals did not believe they stood a chance when it was their word against that of a police officer all the while sitting in jail on bail they could not afford and with zero access to the evidence in their cases,” said Marie Ndiaye, Supervising Attorney of the Decarceration Project at The Legal Aid Society.