A former NYPD investigator accused of making innocent people by lying about seeing their drug dealer was just “doing his job,” his defense attorney said during opening statements in his Manhattan trial on Thursday.
Joseph Franco – who was fired in May 2020 after a departmental hearing – faces perjury, misconduct and other charges for falsely alleging that he was involved in drug trafficking in three cases between 2017 and 2018.
“We live in a society today where it’s very easy to criticize the police,” Franco’s attorney, Howard Tanner, told jurors Thursday.
“Joe is being judged for doing his job,” Tanner said. “Second guess, Monday morning the police are in the back of the district attorney’s office – I have to tell you guys and men, it’s not right.”
The disgraced ex-cop, a 19-year veteran of the force, was assigned to Narcotics Borough Manhattan South after he busted three people for drug dealing in separate incidents, saying he note each transaction.
Prosecutors at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said the case will focus on some of the defendants who pleaded guilty to avoid a sentence. long in prison, even though he is innocent, because the policeman accuses him of corruption.
“This case is about former NYPD detective Joseph Franco and the lies he told in the line of duty that led to the false arrests, prosecutions, convictions and incarcerations of the very New Yorkers he was responsible for. protect and serve,” said District Assistant. Attorney Samantha Drorken.
Franco “repeatedly stated that he observed people sharing things with others, a term commonly used by narcotics investigators to describe a drug deal between two people,” Drorken told the judges.
But the video evidence will prove that “in truth and reality, Franco did not know what he said he saw.”
“He lied in each case to his fellow officers, to attorneys, in documents, and under oath to the grand jury,” Drorken said.
“This is not a mistake, it’s a pattern,” he continued.
Since his indictment in 2019, city attorneys, including in Brooklyn and the Bronxseveral cases that relied on Franco’s testimony have been dismissed.
Franco has pleaded not guilty. The trial will last three to four weeks.