By: Rusty Brooks
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz asked a judge Monday to toss out 60 criminal cases that relied on work by three former New York Police Department detectives who were later convicted of perjury, sexual assault or official misconduct, NY Times reported.
“We cannot stand behind a criminal conviction where the essential law enforcement witness has been convicted of crimes which irreparably impair their credibility,” Ms. Katz said.
“Vacating and dismissing these cases is both constitutionally required and necessary to ensure public confidence in our justice system”, Katz continued while speaking at a virtual hearing
NY Times pointed out : a letter sent in May by the Legal Aid Society and other legal defense and civil rights organizations to the city’s five district attorneys and the special narcotics prosecutor, identifying 20 police officers who had been convicted of crimes and two others who had engaged in work-related misconduct. The letter asked the offices to erase convictions in which the officers played a role.
Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan DA offices are also reviewing the Legal Aid letter as part of its broader efforts to examine problematic convictions.
Thirty-four of those cases were linked to Detective Kevin Desormeau, who was convicted in 2018 for lying about an alleged cocaine sale in Jamaica, Queens.
Another 20 were tossed because they hinged on the work of Detective Sasha Cordoba, who pleaded guilty in 2018 after prosecutors found she made repeated false statements in a gun possession case in Washington Heights in Manhattan.
The other six convictions stemmed from the work of former NYPD Detective Oscar Sandino, who was charged in 2010 and pled guilty to sexual assault and other sexual misconduct charges involving arrestees.
“Criminal convictions largely based on the work of corrupt former or active N.Y.P.D. officers who engaged in misconduct while executing their duties flies in the face of oaths officers take to protect and serve New Yorkers,” said Elizabeth Felber, director of the Legal Aid Society’s wrongful conviction unit. “This unconscionable and inexcusable behavior corrodes the public’s trust in law enforcement,” she said.
Katz is not the only DA who has tossed cases where the arresting officer was corrupt. The NY Times noted: in April, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez asked the court to dismiss 90 convictions — nearly a third of them felonies — that were based on the work of a former narcotics detective, Joseph E. Franco, who had been charged with perjury and other offenses in connection with his undercover work and testimony for prosecutors.