NY Daily News: Legal Aid calls for broader investigation of NYPD detective accused of perjury

Joseph Franco is seen leaving court after his arraignment in State Supreme Court on Wednesday in New York. (Alec Tabak/for New York Daily News)

Joseph Franco is seen leaving court after his arraignment in State Supreme Court on Wednesday in New York. (Alec Tabak/for New York Daily News)

By Graham Rayman
April 25, 2019

The Legal Aid Society called Thursday for a sweeping investigation into more possible false arrests by an NYPD detective indicted on perjury charges, the Daily News has learned.

Detective Joseph Franco is facing 16 charges for making up details that led to three busts over the last two years, while assigned to the Manhattan South Narcotics Division, prosecutors said.

Now Legal Aid lawyers say they want Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark to probe other arrests made by Franco.

“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,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at Legal Aid.

Vance said Wednesday that his office was looking into two more Franco cases. “We already are (doing a broader investigation),” said Vance spokesman Justin Henry.

Franco, 46, was undone when investigators checked surveillance video and talked to witnesses who sharply contradicted his claims that he’d seen the people selling drugs in lower Manhattan.

He is charged with perjury, offering a false instrument for filing, and official misconduct, he was arraigned Wednesday and released.

Franco, a 19-year veteran, had been on desk duty since February and is now suspended.

Two of the people he is accused of falsely arresting were sentenced to prison time, including a woman who spent 17 months behind bars. Vance has moved to vacate those sentences.

“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,” said Marie Ndiaye, Supervising Attorney of the Decarceration Project at The Legal Aid Society. “These atrocities could only happen in a system where the balance of power is so heavily weighted in favor of prosecutors.”