Brooklyn DA Dismissing Dozens Of Drug Cases Involving Testimony Of Former NYPD Officer

In a historic move, dozens of drug cases dating back more than a decade are being dismissed in Brooklyn. The District Attorney says he can no longer stand by the testimony of a former NYPD officer who potentially put innocent people behind bars; CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports.

Video Transcript

DICK BRENNAN: In an historic move, dozens of drug cases dating back more than a decade are now being dismissed in Brooklyn.

JESSICA MOORE: The DA says he can no longer stand by the testimony of a former NYPD officer who potentially put innocent people behind bars. CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas explains.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Fired NYPD officer Joseph Franco is awaiting trial, accused of misconduct in framing multiple people while working as an undercover narcotics detective. Now the Brooklyn district attorney is beginning the process of dismissing charges for 90 cases Franco's testimony was central in prosecuting.

ERIC GONZALEZ: Knowing what we do know now, whether he's convicted or he's not convicted-- and that'd be up to a jury in Manhattan-- I could no longer stand by those convictions.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: From Brooklyn criminal court to the state Supreme Court, each case involved drug convictions dating back as early as 2004. But for many of Maryanne Kaishian's clients with the Brooklyn defender services, the damage, including jail time, has already been done.

MARYANNE KAISHIAN: We have been in touch with the person who missed the birth of a child. We know that people have spent time in solitary confinement in ways that are now officially recognized in New York state to be torturous.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: According to the district attorney, in many of the cases, the accused maintained their innocence, but they pled guilty for a variety of reasons because it was their word against Detective Franco. And for some, this was the only conviction they've had.

MARYANNE KAISHIAN: Certainly these abuses didn't begin with Detective Franco, and they won't end with him. So we all need to be conscious of the fact that we can't just say, OK, we're done now. We've addressed these harms, and we can move on.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Franco pled not guilty to all of the charges. Meantime, the work continues to examine his role in prosecutions spanning nearly two decades. In Brooklyn, Aundrea Cline-Thomas, "CBS2 News."