Manhattan DA's perjury case against former NYPD detective Joseph Franco dismissed
NEW YORK -- Former NYPD narcotics detective Joseph Franco, on trial for allegedly lying about witnessing drug deals to secure arrests, is now, suddenly, a free man.
On Tuesday, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office agreed to dismiss the case after prosecutors failed to hand over all evidence to the defense.
The case against Franco, 50, just collapsed. The 20-year NYPD veteran was on trial on charges of perjury, official misconduct, and providing false documents.
Prosecutors said Franco lied about witnessing drug deals to secure arrests. His own arrest in 2019 ended with hundreds of cases being thrown out in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
Last week, prosecutors admitted they failed to hand over to the defense five cellphone data reports connected to people arrested for drug sales, based on Franco's alleged lies. At least two additional discovery violations led to Tuesday morning's ruling that the case be dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be tried again.
A statement from DA's office spokesman Doug Cohen reads, in part, "New Yorkers must know that law enforcement, including prosecutors, are acting with the utmost integrity. We hold ourselves accountable to that standard."
"They withheld evidence on purpose. They lost evidence and didn't tell me about it, and acted in an unethical manner," said Howard Tanner, Franco's defense attorney.
Tanner said Franco is celebrating the dismissal, but grappling with how to get his life back.
"As a result of this bad-faith prosecution, he lost his job. He lost his pension. He lost his health benefits. He said to me today, 'Howard, how do I get my health benefits? How do I get my dental benefits? How do I do these things? They've all been taken from me,'" Tanner said. "The reputation is only part of it. from a financial standpoint, he has been absolutely devastated by this."
Tanner also said jurors told him after the dismissal that they had planned to acquit Franco based on lack of evidence.
After the dismissal, Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Minogue was removed from her post as deputy chief of the Police Accountability Unit and the DA's office plans to conduct an investigation into how and why legal protocol wasn't followed.
Also, the dismissal doesn't impact the hundreds of vacated convictions connected to Franco. In fact, the DA's office told CBS2 even more convictions may be thrown out.
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